Martyrs recalled as Tyburn Stone is restored
Fifty years after it was originally installed near Marble Arch in London, the Tyburn Tree stone plaque has been restored and re-dedicated. Situated on a busy intersection near Hyde Park, it marks the site where priests, traitors and criminals were executed for almost 600 years.
The list of those who were hanged at Tyburn includes several Jesuits who witnessed to their faith in Jesus Christ by laying down their lives for him at the time of the Reformation. Fr Chris Pedley SJ from Farm Street Church conducted the service of re-dedication, which was attended by Assistant Mother General Mother Xavier McMonagle and Mother Matthias Bailey of nearby Tyburn Convent and Fr Dominic Robinson SJ.
The refurbishment of the Tyburn Tree stone plaque had been commissioned by the Edgware Road Partnership; it was carried out by DBR (London) stone masons whose brief was to conserve the original stonework of the historic landmark. The site is now surrounded by three oak trees provided by Transport for London.
The first record of a public execution at Tyburn - originally a village in Middlesex - was in 1196 but it became most notorious in the 16th century. Henry VIII used Tyburn to execute the ringleaders of the Pilgrimage of Grace, and in 1571, the Tyburn Tree was erected near the modern Marble Arch. This form of gallows consisted of a horizontal wooden triangle supported by three legs; it stood in the middle of the roadway, providing a major landmark in west London and presenting a very obvious symbol of the law to travellers. The executions were public spectacles and proved extremely popular, attracting crowds of thousands.
In the Martyrs' Shrine at Tyburn Convent, more than 350 Catholic Martyrs who witnessed to their faith by dying for it during the Reformation are honoured. Among them are Jesuits, St Edmund Campion SJ (executed on 1 December 1581), St Robert Southwell SJ (21 February 1595) and five who were condemned for the Popish Plot of 1678 and died at Tyburn on 20 June 1679: Thomas Whitbread, William Harcourt, John Fenwick, Antony Turner and John Gavan.
Main photo: Fr Dominic Robinson SJ reverences the stone plaque after the service at Tyburn; right: Fr Chris Pedley SJ leads the re-dedication service (Credit: Simon Caldwell)