History

Our

Model

Our mission has always remained the same, to carry out the Great Commission given to the Church by Jesus, to "go and make disciples, of all the peoples." (Matthew 28:19)

The way we live out this mission builds upon our traditional support for parishes and innovative ideas. We give this support to those in need through grants, partnerships and resourcing.

Timeline

1878
1878

Fr Fletcher & Mr Drummond

Fr Philip Fletcher would serve as the first Master of the Guild for fifty years, from 1878 to 1928.

The Reverend Philip Fletcher MA, a curate in the Anglican Diocese of Chichester, was received into the Church on 11th March 1878. Later that year he made a retreat at the Jesuit house in Roehampton ending on 24th September. Finding that this was the Feast of Our Lady of Ransom he inserted a slip of paper into his prayer book on which he had written, ‘I dedicate all my work to Our Lady of Ransom’. After considering Jesuit and Oratorian vocations he was ordained for the Southwark diocese in 1882 and served his first curacy in Brighton. 

In 1886 he became parish priest at Uckfield and began a crusade of prayer for the conversion of England, ‘the Union of Intercession’. He later initiated ‘Faith of our Fathers’ a magazine devoted to the cause, past, present and future, of the faith in England. On the title page was the prayer of Blessed Henry Heath: ‘Jesus, convert England; Jesus, have mercy on this country; O England, turn thyself to the Lord, Thy God’. Among his readers was a barrister, Lister Drummond, also a convert. Mr Drummond was encouraged but knew that there was more that could be done to bring the Catholic faith to the people of England.

Fr Philip Fletcher would serve as the first Master of the Guild for fifty years, from 1878 to 1928.

1878
1878

The Reverend Philip Fletcher MA, a curate in the Anglican Diocese of Chichester, was received into the Church on 11th March 1878. Later that year he made a retreat at the Jesuit house in Roehampton ending on 24th September. Finding that this was the Feast of Our Lady of Ransom he inserted a slip of paper into his prayer book on which he had written, ‘I dedicate all my work to Our Lady of Ransom’. After considering Jesuit and Oratorian vocations he was ordained for the Southwark diocese in 1882 and served his first curacy in Brighton. 

In 1886 he became parish priest at Uckfield and began a crusade of prayer for the conversion of England, ‘the Union of Intercession’. He later initiated ‘Faith of our Fathers’ a magazine devoted to the cause, past, present and future, of the faith in England. On the title page was the prayer of Blessed Henry Heath: ‘Jesus, convert England; Jesus, have mercy on this country; O England, turn thyself to the Lord, Thy God’. Among his readers was a barrister, Lister Drummond, also a convert. Mr Drummond was encouraged but knew that there was more that could be done to bring the Catholic faith to the people of England.

Fr Philip Fletcher would serve as the first Master of the Guild for fifty years, from 1878 to 1928.

1878
1878

Fr Fletcher & Mr Drummond

Fr Philip Fletcher would serve as the first Master of the Guild for fifty years, from 1878 to 1928.

1887
1887

The Founding of the Guild

On 27th November 1887, Fr Fletcher and Mr Drummond established the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom.

On 27th November 1887, Fr Fletcher and Mr Drummond established the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom as co-founders at Drummond’s chambers, Crown Office Row, London to enrol Catholics in the work of conversion, the restoration of the lapsed and prayer for the forgotten dead. Thousands of Catholics enrolled, the first 2 priests to join were the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Manning, and St John Henry Newman. While Mr Drummond began public preaching, mostly at Hyde Park Corner, Fr Fletcher travelled the country giving public lectures, organising processions in London and pilgrimages to sites of ancient devotion, which included, with the cooperation of their Anglican Deans, the Cathedrals of St Albans and Canterbury, and Westminster Abbey.

In 1896, the next Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vaughan, sought Fr Fletcher’s help in establishing the Converts Aid Society, later known as the St Barnabas Fund. Throughout the years of travel, preaching and writing Fr Fletcher sustained an apostolate to abandoned children in the east end of London.

1887
1887

On 27th November 1887, Fr Fletcher and Mr Drummond established the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom as co-founders at Drummond’s chambers, Crown Office Row, London to enrol Catholics in the work of conversion, the restoration of the lapsed and prayer for the forgotten dead. Thousands of Catholics enrolled, the first 2 priests to join were the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Manning, and St John Henry Newman. While Mr Drummond began public preaching, mostly at Hyde Park Corner, Fr Fletcher travelled the country giving public lectures, organising processions in London and pilgrimages to sites of ancient devotion, which included, with the cooperation of their Anglican Deans, the Cathedrals of St Albans and Canterbury, and Westminster Abbey.

In 1896, the next Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vaughan, sought Fr Fletcher’s help in establishing the Converts Aid Society, later known as the St Barnabas Fund. Throughout the years of travel, preaching and writing Fr Fletcher sustained an apostolate to abandoned children in the east end of London.

1887
1887

The Founding of the Guild

On 27th November 1887, Fr Fletcher and Mr Drummond established the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom.

1900
1900

Pope Leo XIII blesses the Guild

Pope Leo XIII blessed the Guild and offered to become it's honorary 'president'

Fr Fletcher assisted in establishing the Pontifical Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham at Kings Lynn in 1897. He also organised pilgrimages to Marian shrines abroad including Boulogne and Hal and, in 1900 for the Holy Year to Rome, where he asked for the Pope’s blessing on the Guild, which Pope Leo happily gave, deciding that he would be the Guild’s President. Fr Fletcher died in 1928.

1900
1900

Fr Fletcher assisted in establishing the Pontifical Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham at Kings Lynn in 1897. He also organised pilgrimages to Marian shrines abroad including Boulogne and Hal and, in 1900 for the Holy Year to Rome, where he asked for the Pope’s blessing on the Guild, which Pope Leo happily gave, deciding that he would be the Guild’s President. Fr Fletcher died in 1928.

1900
1900

Pope Leo XIII blesses the Guild

Pope Leo XIII blessed the Guild and offered to become it's honorary 'president'

1928
1928

Monsignor John Henry Filmer

Monsignor Filmer served as Master of the Guild from 1928 to 1951.

Monsignor John Henry Filmer had been a vigorous and effective Anglican clergyman. After his reception into the Church in 1900 and ordination in 1902, he joined the Catholic Missionary Society to preach to non-Catholics all over the country. In 1908 he joined the Guild as priest assistant to Fr Fletcher and in 1928 became the second master. Monsignor Filmer served as Master of the Guild from 1928 to 1951.

He continued much of Fr Fletcher’s work and, having previous experience in the City of London, he put the Guild’s finances on a sound footing. The work of public preaching by lay members of the Guild had increased and by 1919 the bishops determined that such preachers should be trained and vetted by the parish clergy, leading to the formation of the Catholic Evidence Guild.

To commemorate the centenary of Catholic Emancipation (1829) Fr Filmer established a trust fund to support the building of churches in the many centres of population where no Catholic church existed. He was ambitious and named it the Million Pound Fund, a total not reached until 1989; long after his retirement from the Mastership in 1951 and his death in 1959.

1928
1928

Monsignor John Henry Filmer had been a vigorous and effective Anglican clergyman. After his reception into the Church in 1900 and ordination in 1902, he joined the Catholic Missionary Society to preach to non-Catholics all over the country. In 1908 he joined the Guild as priest assistant to Fr Fletcher and in 1928 became the second master. Monsignor Filmer served as Master of the Guild from 1928 to 1951.

He continued much of Fr Fletcher’s work and, having previous experience in the City of London, he put the Guild’s finances on a sound footing. The work of public preaching by lay members of the Guild had increased and by 1919 the bishops determined that such preachers should be trained and vetted by the parish clergy, leading to the formation of the Catholic Evidence Guild.

To commemorate the centenary of Catholic Emancipation (1829) Fr Filmer established a trust fund to support the building of churches in the many centres of population where no Catholic church existed. He was ambitious and named it the Million Pound Fund, a total not reached until 1989; long after his retirement from the Mastership in 1951 and his death in 1959.

1928
1928

Monsignor John Henry Filmer

Monsignor Filmer served as Master of the Guild from 1928 to 1951.

1951
1951

Monsignor Laurance Goulder

Monsignor Goulder served as the Master of the Guild from 1951 to 1968.

The third master of the Guild, Monsignor Laurance Goulder, was a convert Anglican clergyman like his predecessors. Monsignor Goulder would serve as the Master of the Guild from 1951 to 1968. He was a historian and added an educational element to the many Ransom pilgrimages about the country. During the novena before the feast of Our Lady of Ransom he used to gather the posted petitions of Ransomers and take them to Walsingham. So that he should have witnesses for this, in 1952 he started the walking pilgrimage from London to Walsingham. This was an occasion of many graces for those men privileged to take part and many others, as well as being a great incentive to fund-raising for the Guild.

Monsignor Goulder obtained the services of a priest assistant in 1966. Fr Anthony Stark was a cradle Catholic and not from a wealthy family so Monsignor Goulder felt that he ought to provide him with a stipend, whereupon the honorary secretary resigned in protest. Monsignor Goulder retired in 1968 and his assistant became the fourth master. Having outlived his siblings, Monsignor Goulder inherited all of the parental property, endowed the Guild with funds to support the Master and died in 1969. In 1967, a prominent Guild member of the time, Mr Martin Gillett, with some Anglican friends set up the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary which fostered friendships between Catholic and Anglican clergy, leading to a tide of receptions into the Catholic Church in the 1990s.

1951
1951

The third master of the Guild, Monsignor Laurance Goulder, was a convert Anglican clergyman like his predecessors. Monsignor Goulder would serve as the Master of the Guild from 1951 to 1968. He was a historian and added an educational element to the many Ransom pilgrimages about the country. During the novena before the feast of Our Lady of Ransom he used to gather the posted petitions of Ransomers and take them to Walsingham. So that he should have witnesses for this, in 1952 he started the walking pilgrimage from London to Walsingham. This was an occasion of many graces for those men privileged to take part and many others, as well as being a great incentive to fund-raising for the Guild.

Monsignor Goulder obtained the services of a priest assistant in 1966. Fr Anthony Stark was a cradle Catholic and not from a wealthy family so Monsignor Goulder felt that he ought to provide him with a stipend, whereupon the honorary secretary resigned in protest. Monsignor Goulder retired in 1968 and his assistant became the fourth master. Having outlived his siblings, Monsignor Goulder inherited all of the parental property, endowed the Guild with funds to support the Master and died in 1969. In 1967, a prominent Guild member of the time, Mr Martin Gillett, with some Anglican friends set up the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary which fostered friendships between Catholic and Anglican clergy, leading to a tide of receptions into the Catholic Church in the 1990s.

1951
1951

Monsignor Laurance Goulder

Monsignor Goulder served as the Master of the Guild from 1951 to 1968.

1968
1968

Monsignor Anthony Stark

Monsignor Stark served as Master of the Guild from 1968 to 2010.

Monsignor Stark continued his predecessor’s work with studies of the English Martyrs and the penal times. He encouraged the appointment of the Marists to Walsingham, assisted in setting up the Shrine Council and embellished the Slipper Chapel with the Annunciation window. Monsignor Stark served as the Master of the Guild from 1968 to 2010.

Several of the long-established pilgrimages petered out as the Master’s health deteriorated but the yearly Mass at the Shrine of St Edward in Westminster Abbey, begun in 1975, continued. The Walsingham Walk continued independently under the leadership of Mr Peter Walters until 2018.

1968
1968

Monsignor Stark continued his predecessor’s work with studies of the English Martyrs and the penal times. He encouraged the appointment of the Marists to Walsingham, assisted in setting up the Shrine Council and embellished the Slipper Chapel with the Annunciation window. Monsignor Stark served as the Master of the Guild from 1968 to 2010.

Several of the long-established pilgrimages petered out as the Master’s health deteriorated but the yearly Mass at the Shrine of St Edward in Westminster Abbey, begun in 1975, continued. The Walsingham Walk continued independently under the leadership of Mr Peter Walters until 2018.

1968
1968

Monsignor Anthony Stark

Monsignor Stark served as Master of the Guild from 1968 to 2010.

1979
1979

John Henry Newman’s path to Sainthood

One of Monsignor Stark's great works was the study of St John Henry Newman, he was appointed vice-postulator in 1979.

One of Monsignor Stark's great works was the study of St John Henry Newman, he was appointed vice-postulator in 1979. Where there is a candidate for canonisation Rome likes to be able to judge whether the candidate is of more than local significance, so Monsignor Stark wrote to Bishops Conferences throughout the world requesting letters of support.

The most extensive reply came from Germany. The Archbishop of Munich and Freising sent a translation of a recently delivered lecture on Newman and with it a covering letter explaining why, when the process was completed, Newman ought to be declared a Doctor of the Church. That was the first that Monsignor Stark had ever heard of Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), though they met on several subsequent occasions.

The Guild made financial contributions to the cause and a substantial un-costed contribution in the thousands of documents typed up by the Master’s secretaries which were submitted to Rome in 1986 on the completion of the Diocesan process.

1979
1979

One of Monsignor Stark's great works was the study of St John Henry Newman, he was appointed vice-postulator in 1979. Where there is a candidate for canonisation Rome likes to be able to judge whether the candidate is of more than local significance, so Monsignor Stark wrote to Bishops Conferences throughout the world requesting letters of support.

The most extensive reply came from Germany. The Archbishop of Munich and Freising sent a translation of a recently delivered lecture on Newman and with it a covering letter explaining why, when the process was completed, Newman ought to be declared a Doctor of the Church. That was the first that Monsignor Stark had ever heard of Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), though they met on several subsequent occasions.

The Guild made financial contributions to the cause and a substantial un-costed contribution in the thousands of documents typed up by the Master’s secretaries which were submitted to Rome in 1986 on the completion of the Diocesan process.

1979
1979

John Henry Newman’s path to Sainthood

One of Monsignor Stark's great works was the study of St John Henry Newman, he was appointed vice-postulator in 1979.

2010
2010

Monsignor Stark’s Retirement

Following Monsignor Stark’s retirement in 2010, Archbishop Peter Smith was instrumental in sustaining the Guild.

Following Monsignor Stark’s retirement in 2010, Archbishop Peter Smith was instrumental in sustaining the Guild when it looked as if it was about to be reduced to a trust fund. Several priests helped to keep the Guild going during this period, particularly Monsignor Martin Lee, Monsignor James Overton and Fr Christopher Colven.

2010
2010

Following Monsignor Stark’s retirement in 2010, Archbishop Peter Smith was instrumental in sustaining the Guild when it looked as if it was about to be reduced to a trust fund. Several priests helped to keep the Guild going during this period, particularly Monsignor Martin Lee, Monsignor James Overton and Fr Christopher Colven.

2010
2010

Monsignor Stark’s Retirement

Following Monsignor Stark’s retirement in 2010, Archbishop Peter Smith was instrumental in sustaining the Guild.

2020
2020

The Rededication of England to Mary

In this period, Rector Monsignor John Armitage and the staff at the Basilica of Our Lady of Walsingham provided back office functions for the Guild.

In this period, Rector Monsignor John Armitage and the staff at the Basilica of Our Lady of Walsingham provided back office functions for the Guild. The Guild went on to support the highly successful Dowry Tour, which took the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham to every cathedral in England, promoting the Rededication of England to Mary on 29th March, 2020.

The Dowry Tour was an engaging way for the Catholic faithful of England to experience the rich history of their faith and to discover personally the spiritual motherhood of Mary. The Rededication itself, although taking place in lockdown, was watched live online by over 500,000 people, uniting in prayer from their homes for the evangelisation of the nation.

2020
2020

In this period, Rector Monsignor John Armitage and the staff at the Basilica of Our Lady of Walsingham provided back office functions for the Guild. The Guild went on to support the highly successful Dowry Tour, which took the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham to every cathedral in England, promoting the Rededication of England to Mary on 29th March, 2020.

The Dowry Tour was an engaging way for the Catholic faithful of England to experience the rich history of their faith and to discover personally the spiritual motherhood of Mary. The Rededication itself, although taking place in lockdown, was watched live online by over 500,000 people, uniting in prayer from their homes for the evangelisation of the nation.

2020
2020

The Rededication of England to Mary

In this period, Rector Monsignor John Armitage and the staff at the Basilica of Our Lady of Walsingham provided back office functions for the Guild.