Monthly Archives: March 2019

The Holy Rood Press (1877-1882)

Dr. Pusey’s Private Press was the outcome of a plan of employing orphan girls in the work of Printing, suggested by Miss Sellon, Mother Superior of the Devonport Society or Sisterhood, in 1855. Pusey welcomed the idea, and assisted its realization by presenting to the new Press some of its necessary equipment, which he bought from the Rev. Charles Marriott, who wished to give up the printing he had carried on at Littlemore (near Oxford) from 1848 to about 1855. The Press was at first (1855-7) at Bristol, then (at any rate in 1858) at Bradford-on-Avon; and soon after it was removed to the headquarters of the Sisterhood at Plymouth (1864-70).

In 1870 it was thought that it would be much more convenient for Pusey to have his printing done at Oxford, and Miss Sellon purchased the house which is now the residence of the Principal of Wycliffe Hall, the corner house where Norham Gardens join the Banbury Road, then called St. Giles’ East. The house was named Holy Rood, and after Miss Sellon’s death in November 1876 it had no connexion with the Sisterhood. In 1877 Pusey purchased the house, and as he was Warden of the Devonport Society the imprint ‘Printed by the Devonport Society of the Holy Trinity, Holy Rood, Oxford,’ was continued. In a few cases, about 1872, the word ‘Devonport’ was omitted, but it was soon resumed, to prevent confusion with the work of the Convent of the Holy and Undivided Trinity in Woodstock Road. Miss Kebbel, Dr. Pusey’s secretary, superintended the printing until 1877, when Miss Mary M. Milner, who is still resident in Oxford, undertook the task at Dr. Pusey’s request. From 1870 till Dr. Pusey’s death in 1882 every book, pamphlet, and sermon which he published (with he sole exception of one or two controversial volumes), as well as all volumes which he edited, were set up in type at Holy Rood, and profs were printed off on the large hand-press from Littlemore referred to above. The formes as finally corrected were transferred to the Clarendon Press, where the actual printing of the sheets took place. The staff in 1882 was—Miss Milner in charge, a housekeeper, an overseer of the printing, namely Mr. Bridge (who took the heavy work, such as pulling the proofs), and eight orphan girls, who were apprenticed to Dr. Pusey personally for seven or five years, and were provided by him with food, clothing, and education. Meanwhile, they were learning the trade of printing, which provided a livelihood for them in after life. They learnt to set up even Greek and Hebrew, with commendable neatness and accuracy, as the published volumes show: but they also had to contend throughout with the grievous handwriting of the Doctor himself. After 1882 all printing ceased, and the orphanage was removed to Ascot Priory.

The preceding facts are derived almost entirely from notes kindly supplied by Miss Milner, and have been thought deserving of permanent record because of the peculiar circumstances of the Press, which can hardly be reduced to any simple category, for all the actual printing off was done in another place! The printing was in fact to a large extent a charitable scheme, and in that respect unique. Moreover, no accurate account has been hitherto printed anywhere.

A full bibliography of the books produced will be found in the fourth volume of Canon Liddon’s monumental Life of Dr. Pusey (1897), occupying pages 429-40.

—Falconer Madan, editor, The Daniel Press: Memorials of C.H.O. Daniel with a Bibliography of the Press, 1845-1919 (Oxford: Printed on the Daniel Press in the Bodleian Library, 1921), pp. 165—166. Reprinted as The Holy Rood Press: The Private Press of Dr E. B. Pusey (Moreton-in Marsh, Gloucestershire, England: Privately printed at The Kit-Cat Press, 1989).

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