John Ducketts Cross
A mile from Wolsingham, at the top of Redgate Banks, just off the northbound B6296, a flight of steps climb steeply to a Celtic style cross surrounded by railings.
This is John Duckett’s Cross, erected in 1899 through the efforts of Rev. Mother Mary Clare, of St Anne’s Convent of Mercy, Wolsingham. The cross marks the spot where, on July 2nd 1644, John Duckett was arrested by Roundhead soldiers on the charge of being a Roman Catholic, which was then a crime.
While it is difficult to understand such religious intolerance today, the situation was very different in the 17th century when the Catholic attempts to murder Elizabeth 1 and the Gunpowder Plot were still fairly recent events.
John Duckett was born in Under-winder, Yorkshire in 1613, a relation of the earlier martyr James Duckett, from Westmoreland, who was executed at Tyburn in 1602. Ordained at the famous Catholic College of Douai, France, in 1639, John studied for three years in Paris before returning to the English mission at Durham.
Preaching the Catholic faith with Ralph Corby, both were betrayed to the authorities after holding mass at an unknown house in Wolsingham. They immediately fled the town, but were caught at Pickering Hill, now known as Redgate Head, and taken to London for trial. Both were hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn on 7th September 1644.
Nearby Tow Law has a primary school named after Blessed John Duckett, who was finally beatified in 1929.