North Transept and Shrine Of St. Philip Howard

The north aisle leads into the North Transept, where the relics of the martyr Earl of Arundel,  St. Philip Howard (1557-1595) rest in a special shrine. This thirteenth Earl, of whom the present Duke of Norfolk is a lineal descendant, was born on 28th June 1557. His father Thomas, fourth Duke of Norfolk, was beheaded by Queen Elizabeth in 1572 for plotting to marry Mary, Queen of Scots, and his grandfather was the ambitious Duke whose schemes had resulted in the marriage of his nieces, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, to Henry VIII (both later beheaded). Philip Howard was baptised by the Archbishop of York in the Chapel of Whitehall Palace, one of his godfathers being King Philip of Spain, Mary Tudor’s consort, after whom he was named. That was one of the Spanish king’s last public appearances in this country.

Philip Howard graduated at St. John’s College, Cambridge, in 1574. He had been married to Anne, daughter of Lord Dacre of Gilsland, when he was fourteen. He was about eighteen when he first attended Queen Elizabeth’s court. Handsome, high-born, quick-witted and articulate, he quickly fell prey to its glittering allurements. For a time he neglected his duties both to his wife and to God, but the year 1581 proved a turning point in his career. In that year he was to be present at a disputation in the Tower of London between a group of Catholic prisoners – the Jesuit, Father Edmund Campion, Father Ralph Sherwin, with other priests, and a selection of divines of the Establishment led by the Deans of St Paul’s and Windsor. The bearing and simplicity of the suffering confessors for the faith awakened Philip Howard’s soul. He returned to Arundel to be alone and weigh the likely cost of reconciliation with the Catholic Church, which he knew only too well could be death.

Philip Howard was reconciled to the Catholic Church in London (at the old charterhouse, acquired by his father) by Father Weston, a missionary priest. Shortly after, seeking religious liberty abroad, he sailed from Littlehampton, but being betrayed by a servant, he was apprehended at sea, brought back prisoner and lodged in the Tower on 15th April 1585. A year later, after countless interrogations, he was examined before the Star Chamber, found guilty of treason, fined £10,000 and committed to prison at the Queen’s pleasure. In 1588, with the defeat of the Spanish Armada, a wave of anti-Catholicism swept the country and he was tried again, before King’s Bench, charged falsely with praying for a Spanish victory. Beset with lies and betrayed by former friends, Philip was unable to defend himself, and was found guilty. He was sentenced to the traitor’s death – to be hanged, drawn and quartered. Thereon began his long term of imprisonment, never knowing from day to day which would be his last. This was his time of spiritual development. Each day he spent several hours in prayer and meditation; he was noted for his patience in suffering and courtesy to unkind keepers. At length, weakened by malnutrition and possibly poisoned, he died peacefully about midday on Sunday 19th October 1595. He was 38 years old and had spent almost the last eleven years of his life prisoner in the Tower of London.

He remained buried in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower until 1624 when his remains were brought by Anne, his widow, to West Horsley Place, near Guildford, (where an iron coffin was made for them) and thence to Arundel and laid in the Fitzalan Chapel. He was beatified in 1929 and on 25th October 1970, in company with thirty-nine other English and Welsh martyrs, declared a saint by Pope Paul VI in St. Peter’s, Rome. On 10th March 1971 in the presence of Mgr. Michael Bowen, then Coadjutor Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, and the Chapter of Canons, St. Philip Howard’s remains were carried solemnly, but privately, to this new altar tomb.

The shrine is a sarcophagus of Nabrosina stone topped with a slab of green Westmorland slate. On the face of the tomb are the armorial achievements of St. Philip Howard blazoned in full colour, unfortunately showing only four of the eight quarterings to which St. Philip was entitled. Incised in the step before the shrine is this inscription: The more affliction we endure for Christ in this world, the more glory we shall obtain with Christ in the next. This is a translation of the original Latin inscribed by St. Philip Howard himself over the fireplace of his cell in the Beauchamp Tower, which visitors to the Tower of London can still see today: Quanto plus afflictionis pro Christo in hoc saeculo, tanto plus gloriae cum Christo in futuro. Arundell – June 22, 1587. The shrine is enclosed with wrought iron of a simple design representing chains, the crossed palms of martyrdom, and ‘cross-crosslets fitchée’ taken from the Howard arms. The wrought ironwork was made by the father and son team of Walter and Alan Fullick of East Preston, near Angmering-on-Sea. Behind the altar is a wooden statue of St. Philip Howard with his dog, of whom the saint was very fond, faithfully remaining with his master in prison. In his hands the saint carries the rosary, and the fateful letter sent to Queen Elizabeth, explaining his reasons for leaving England. The statue was carved by Mr. Ivor Hursey, of Faversham in Kent, and both the statue and the capping to the wrought iron railings are fashioned from limewood from the Duke of Norfolk’s Estate. The shrine is backed by curtains of scarlet velvet – the liturgical colour for Feasts of Martyrs. The shrine was designed by Malcolm Lawson-Paul, L.S.I.A.

The oval stone plaque to the right of the shrine was unveiled in July 1973, to commemorate the centenary of the Cathedral. The plaque bears the crest of the Duke of Norfolk as Earl Marshall, a lion statant guardant, tail extended or, ducally gorged argent, upon a chapeau gules, turned up ermine.

Throughout the Cathedral are fine examples of Victorian glass most of which was designed by Nathaniel Westlake. The large window in this transept shows, in its central light, Mary with her Divine Child and, below, Eve with her children. In each of the main lights are represented incidents in the Genesis account of Eve, ‘mother of all the living’ contrasted with events from the life of Mary, Mother of Christ and ‘Mother of the Church’. Beginning at the foot of the left light you will make out the Creation of Eve, and above this the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Above this, Eve is presented to Adam – the companionship of man and woman in life, with Joseph elected to be the protector of Mary and Jesus. In the second light are the nuptials of Adam and Eve, with the espousals of Mary and Joseph, the Temptation of Eve and the Annunciation to Mary, a contrast in human responses to God’s will. The fourth light shows the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise as the result of their disobedience, contrasted with the fruit of Mary’s obedience – she celebrates the election by singing the Canticle called the “Magnificat”, the Latin text of which is threaded through this window. There is a double contrast here, for with the Magnificat is also represented the descent of Christ to take redemption to all who died before His Coming, what the Creed calls the “descent into hell”. Above is the birth of Abel, who offered an acceptable sacrifice, and the birth of our Saviour. In the fifth light are Adam and Eve toiling and the work of the Holy Family of Nazareth, and lastly, the death of Abel, and Mary receiving the body of her crucified Son.

In the tracery above are depicted in two small lights, (i) Gideon’s fleece, which remained miraculously dry when ‘there was dew on all the ground’ (Judges, VI, 40), a symbol of Mary’s sinlessness in the midst of a sinful world, and (ii) Moses before the Burning Bush ‘which was on fire and was not burnt’ (Exodus, III, 2), symbolic of her virginity, The central roundel in the tracery shows Christ the Bridegroom and around are nine Virgin Saints – Catherine, Margaret, Hilda, Ethelreda, Germaine, Victoria, Agnes, Cecilia and Winefride.

On the west wall of this transept, above the door, is the window of royal saints. Reading from lower left upwards are Emperor St. Henry (970-1022) holding Bamburg Cathedral, which he founded, and his wife St. Cunegunda; Kenelm, boy king of Mercia (b. 812), Ferdinand of Castile (1198-1252), Eric of Sweden, martyred in 1151, Edmund of East Anglia, killed by invading Danes in 970 and holding the arrow of his martyrdom; Alice, (931-999), wife first to Lothair, King of the Romans, and then to the Emperor Otho I; Maud, Empress, who died 968; Harold of Denmark, 9th century; Olaf, or Olave, of Norway, martyred 1030; Ethelbert of Kent, who welcomed St. Augustine, Apostle of England, and founded Canterbury Cathedral, (d. 616); and lastly, Oswald of Northumbria (d. 672). The other light, reading from the bottom, begins with Edward the Confessor (king of England 1040-1066), whose shrine is in Westminster Abbey; Richard Prince of the West Saxons (d. 722); Canute of Denmark (martyred 1086);, nephew to the King of that name who ruled England; Louis of France (1215-1270), Crusader, holding the Crown of Thorns for which he built the Sainte Chapelle in Paris; Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231), Franciscan tertiary; Margaret of Scotland, niece of Edward the Confessor; Stephen of Hungary (977-1038); Lucius,  possible legendary second century British King; Clotilde, Queen of the Franks, (d. 545) who converted her husband, Clovis, and eastern Empress Pulcheria.

The statue at the west end of this area depicts St. Anthony of Padua, a celebrated follower of   St. Francis of Assisi.  One of the most fervent preachers of the Franciscan order, he died in 1231 and as a saint is especially invoked for the recovery of lost things.  The statue for many years was in pieces in the Cathedral cellars but was restored by Mr. Ross Dearsley and placed in its present position in 2008.