Oxford University

Heraldry Society


Brother Mark Turnham-Elvins, OFM.Cap, R.I.P.

Brother Mark was born in Whitstable in Kent on 26th November 1939 and baptised Mark Anthony Lawrence Elvins.

He was educated at Dover College, St Stephen’s House in Oxford, the Pontifical Beda College in Rome, and Heythrop College in London, and holds a Diploma in Spirituality from Milltown Institute in Dublin. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1968, ordained priest at Arundel on Easter Sunday 1973, and was assistant curate at Arundel Cathedral and Chantry priest to the Duke of Norfolk from 1973 to 1979. From 1980 to 1990 he served at Saint Mary Magdalene’s parish church in Brighton, additionally holding the post of Chaplain to the Master of the Worshipful Company of Scriveners of the City of London. From 1990 to 1993 he was parish priest at Henfield.

He entered the British Province of the Capuchin Order as a priest, and received the Capuchin habit on 7th September 1995. He made temporary profession on 8th September 1996 and was perpetually professed on 18th September, 1999.

From September 2005 until September 2007 he was in Preston as Roman Catholic Chaplain to the University of Central Lancashire.
He was a member of the Provincial Council from 2005 to 2011.
In 2007 he became the last Warden of Greyfriars Hall in the University of Oxford until its closure in 2008. He was Guardian of the Oxford Fraternity from 2008 to 2011.

Brother Mark had a long involvement in caring for the sick and the poor. He founded Simon House for the Homeless in Oxford (1967), the St Thomas Fund for the Homeless in Brighton (1982), Becket Homes for the Homeless in Canterbury (1997), and the Regina Palestinae charity for poor Palestinians (2010), and was a co-founder of the Thomas More Legal Centre (2007). He has been chaplain to the Order of Malta since 1981.

In 1982 he was appointed an Ecclesiastical Knight of Grace of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George and chaplain and council member of the British and Irish Delegation of the Order.
In 2003 the Order awarded him the Gold Bene Merenti Medal. He was also a Chaplain of Magistral Grace of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta.
In 2007 he led a wreath laying ceremony in honour of Henry Benedict Stuart at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.

Mark was a member of the Heraldry Society and the White Lion Society.
The Heraldry Society holds an annual Mark Elvins Lecture.

In the 1960s he was first a member and then Honorary Secretary of this Society. After a period of dormancy and a brief revival, Brother Mark was instumental in our re-launch in 2009.

He is the author of numerous books, including Cardinals and Heraldry, and with Gracewing Catholic Trivia, Towards a People’s Liturgy, Gospel Chivalry, and A Eucharistic Vision of Saint Francis.

He died of cancer in Michael Sobell House in Oxford after a short illness on 1st May 2014 at 11.20 am.

  • Old Catholic England (1978)
  • Oxford University Heraldry Society: The Coat of Arms (1981)
  • Batham Abbey 1182-1982: Its Founders and His Family (1981)
  • Arundel Priory 1380-1980: The College of the Holy Trinity (1981)
  • The Church’s Response to the Homeless (1985)
  • Drugs: How the Church can help (1987) with Teresa Searle
  • Cardinals and Heraldry (1988)
  • Towards a People’s Liturgy, the Importance of Language (1994)
  • “St” Thomas of Dover: Monk and Martyr (1994)
  • St Thomas Becket and the Homeless (1994)
  • Our Lady and the Ecumenical Movement (2000)
  • Catholic Trivia: our Forgotten Heritage (2002)
  • Gospel Chivalry: Franciscan Romanticism (2006)
  • A Eucharistic Vision and the Spirituality of St Francis (2007)