Saint Swithun Wells was born at Brambridge, Hampshire in 1536, and was christened with the name of the local saint and bishop Swithun. He was for many years a schoolmaster at Monkton Farleigh in Wiltshire. During this period, he attended Protestant services, but in 1583, was reconciled to the Catholic Church. In 1585 he went to London, where he purchased a house in Gray's Inn Lane.
In 1591, young Father Edmund Gennings was saying Mass at Wells's house, when the priest-hunter Richard Topcliffe burst in with his officers. The congregation, not wishing the Mass to be interrupted, held the door and beat back the officers until the service was finished, after which they all surrendered peacefully. Saint Swithun Wells was not present at the time, but his wife was, and she was arrested along with Saint Edmund Gennings, Saint Polydore Plasden, and three laymen named John Mason, Sidney Hodgson, and Brian Lacey. Saint Swithun Wells was immediately arrested and imprisoned on his return.
At his trial, he said that he had not been present at the Mass, but wished he had been.
He was sentenced to die by hanging, and was executed outside his own house on 10 December 1591, just after St. Edmund Gennings. On the scaffold, he said to the priest catcher, RichardTopcliffe, "I pray God make you a Paul of a Saul, of a bloody persecutor one of the Catholic Church's children." His wife, Alice, was reprieved, and died in prison in 1602.
Swithun Wells was canonized by Pope Paul VI on 25 October 1970, as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. His feast day, along with that of the other thirty-nine martyrs, is on 25 October.
In 2007 Mary’s Dowry productions created a new form of film media to present the lives of the saints. Mary’s Dowry Productions recreates stunning silent visuals, informative, devotional narration, and original contemplative music that touches your spirit to draw you into a spiritual encounter with the saint. Watch with your spiritual eye, listen with your spiritual ear. Our films seek to offer a window into the lives of our saints. Using your spiritual senses we invite you to shut out the world, sit prayerfully and peacefully and go on a journey of faith, history and prayer with this inspiring Elizabethan Saint.
We were able to film some external scenes at Parham House and Park which represented Saint Swithun's beautiful house in the country. Internal scenes were filmed on a set with historical costumes and backdrops. We love to recreate key moments from the Saints lives using costume, nature and props. We always make sure that the people who portray the Saints do not use dialogue. This assures that the viewer only 'sees' a representation but hears narration and original music to aid a spiritual encounter with the Saint, thus giving the impression of looking through a window in time and history to see the story unfold.