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Article from local newspaper transcribed and presented by Margaret Craddock

Saint Nicholas Owen
Wooden statue of St Nicholas Owen

Saint Nicholas Owen was a Jesuit lay brother and martyr.  He was born of an Oxfordshire recusant family and was trained in early life as a carpenter and builder.  This enabled him to construct hiding places for priests in various country houses with extraordinary skill and ingenuity over a period of twenty-six years.

Examples of his work survives at Sawston Hall (Cambs), Hinlip Hall and Hudding ton Court (Hereford and Worcester), Harrowden Hall (Gt Harrowden, Northants), Coughton Hall (Warwicks) and Broadoaks (Essex) most of which were built single-handed at night, in complete secrecy.

Three times Owen was imprisoned, once after the arrest of Edward Campion, whom he served and praised, again after the imprisonment of John Gerard, whose escape he planned and executed and again while serving the Provincial Henry Garnet, at Hinlip Hall.  Here Owen, after a fortnight without food in his own hiding hole, gave himself up to the pursuivants in the hope that they would call off the pursuit of the priests.

He was taken to the Tower and mercilessly racked.  As he constantly refused to give information about the whereabouts of the priests, he was again racked until on l2 February 1606 he died in agony after his vital parts burst out under torture.

The council asserted that he had committed suicide but few contemporaries believed it.  He was canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.  Feast Day 22 March.

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