Article on Recusants in the Bishop’s Palace, Ely in Recusant History


My article ‘The Bishop’s Palace at Ely as a Prison for Recusants, 1577-1597’ has just been published in volume 32 number 2 of Recusant History, the journal of the Catholic Record Society. As it happens, 32:2 will be the last ever volume of the journal under the name Recusant History, as the journal changes its name to British Catholic History next year and comes under the umbrella of Cambridge University Press.

My article explores the physical setting of the recusant prisoners in the Bishop’s Palace at Ely, traces the timeline of their incarceration and examines the products of their imprisonment: Sir Thomas Tresham’s designs for Bishop Goodrich’s Long Gallery,  Thomas Throckmorton’s Tabula Eliensis and George Cotton’s Japonian Epistles. I argue that the prisoners were able to have an active cultural life, not least because Thomas Tresham had a significant library of books in the Palace from which the other prisoners could borrow. I make the case that the prison writings and prison art of the recusant laymen imprisoned at Ely was every bit as significant as the contribution to Elizabethan Catholicism made by the imprisoned priests in nearby Wisbech Castle.

The article is the culmination of over two years’ work on the Bishop’s Palace at Ely, which included an archaeological investigation of the Long Gallery in October 2013.

One reply on “Article on Recusants in the Bishop’s Palace, Ely in Recusant History

I am researching The Coughton Tabula Eliensis which the above note suggests may have been instigated by Thomas Throckmorton. The Coughton Tabula seems to be a “document” about Ely and related matters with only a passing connection With the Throckmortons. Given the rest of their family history, particularly of their Catholicism, a document produced on their instruction might be expected to demonstrate their recusant actions more prominently and make less comment on the story of Ely. Is there evidence the T. Throckmorton commissioned the tabula or even saw the current Ely Tabula. Or was the Coughton tabula aquired by the family when they noted the references at the bottom of the document to a member of their family?
I would be most grateful for sight of your paper and am happy to pay for the privlege

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