The Essex Recusant Society was founded with the purpose of conducting research and publishing material concerning the post-Reformation Catholic community in the county of Essex and East London.


The Society was the first local Catholic history group of its kind in England and Wales. From 1959 to 1985 it published its well-respected journal Essex Recusant. This too was the first such local Catholic historical publication in the country: it ran to a total of twenty-seven volumes, each containing several issues. The society’s founding chairman and the first editor of Essex Recusant was Monsignor Daniel Shanahan A priest of Brentwood diocese for over fifty years, & historian of the Old Brotherhood of the secular clergy; the first Secretary of the Canon Law Society 1957-60), & made a Privy Chamberlain by Pope Pius XII in 1958. . Among other founders was Canon Brian Foley, later Bishop of Lancaster.


In the year 2000, after a period of abeyance in the late 1980s and 1990s, the Society was revived in 2000, and took as its secondary title, the Brentwood Diocesan Historical Society. The committee of the Society would actively support formation of other Catholic history groups in the South-East, such as a revival of the London Recusant Society.


Journal: The Society's journal, now South-Eastern Catholic History, incorporates the former Essex Recusant and London Recusant, but the geographical remit is interpreted generously (not possessively!) and includes East Anglia. The editor, Dr James Kelly, welcomes offers of articles at any time of the year for future editions. Email: jepkelly@btinternet.com Tel: 07751 492029

Meetings: The Essex branch is at present the only active one. It meets at the Grange in Brentwood, though visits are made to London.

Programme: A yearly programme of talks and visits to places of Catholic interest is arranged. Recent talks have included Joanna Bogle Catholic feasts and seasons in Essex and London, Dr James Hagerty Cardinal Hinsley and Tony Tuckwell the History of New Hall. Visits have been to the Italian church in Clerkenwell and to the private house of Braddocks, complete with several priest holes.

Library: Members also have access to the extensive Essex Recusant library, housed at the Grange, Brentwood. It includes original publications from the penal times. It was origianlly formed from the collections of Canon Whitfield, a prominent scholar of the recusant period, and Bishop Foley, and has continued to grow. Use of the library is by appointment through the secretary

Subscription: The present annual subscription is £10, which includes the Journal South-Eastern Catholic History, published annually in the Spring, and any other offers or publications included in that year. The journal can be purchased without becoming a full member for £6. All cheques should be made payable to Essex Recusant

Enquiries: All enquiries should be directed to the secretary, Miss Isobel Parks, at Magdalene Lodge, Wash Road, Basildon, Essex, SS15 4AZ Email: isobelparks@rocketmail.com


Volume 1 (2009)