Mass at Rotherwas Chapel

On Saturday 17th September Dom Boniface Hill celebrated a Requiem Mass for Henry Bodenham and his family at the beautiful English Heritage owned Rotherwas Chapel in Herefordshire. He was join by the Abbot and two monks of Belmont Abbey who sang the Proper and Ordinary of the mass, OG’s, members of the Friends of Downside and The Friends of Rotherwas Chapel.

2ND Lieut. Henry Lubienski Bodenham, 11th Black Watch, was the eldest son of the late Count and Countess Lubienski Bodenham, of Rotherwas and Bullingham Manor, who had owned the Chapel up until the early 1900’s. He was born in 1896, went to Downside in September 1908 and left in July 1914. He was appointed Head of Ramsay House and Head of the School in 1913 and he also captained the Shooting Club and edited the Raven during his time at Downside.

Henry went on to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was studying for a mathematical exhibition when the 1st World War broke out. He obtained a commission in December 1914 and, after passing through the School of Gunnery with distinction, he went to the front on April 28th 2016, as second in command of a machine gun company.

On 7th September 1916 Henry was killed in action during the Battle of the Somme. His Captain, who described him as “undoubtedly my best officer”, stated in a letter that seeing Lieutenant Bodenham was overworking, he tried to send him down to the base for 24 hours rest but that he refused to leave his men in danger. Soon afterwards he set out to visit some posts with two other officers but on the way out a shell burst close to them, killing him instantly, and wounding his companions.

As Dom Boniface noted, “it was fitting that a Requiem Mass be finally offered for Henry, 100 years after his death”. It was also fitting that during the Mass Dom Boniface used the chalice that had belonged to Abbot Leander Ramsay, who had been Headmaster during Henry’s time at Downside.

Our thanks go to English Heritage for allowing us to celebrate Mass in this beautiful Recusant Chapel, which is well worth as visit! We would also like to thank the The Abbot and monks of Belmont Abbey, the Friends of Rotherwas Chapel and Lt. Col. Richardson-Aitken for all their hard work and help in making this event possible.

For more photo’s from the day go to the Downside Abbey Facebook page.