Over seventy members and their guests filled the Throne Room for the first gathering of the Society since the beginning of the pandemic. There was a good atmosphere as old friends greeted each other.
The Chairman, Mary Goodwin, was delighted to welcome Fr Peter Harris as our Guest Speaker. She announced that a special programme for the Society is being planned for the Centenary next year which will include a Luncheon in the Throne Room and a Reception at the Mansion House.
The Cardinal began his talk by welcoming members back to the House after two years. He informed us that there had been three fairly serious leaks in the roofing which had been successfully repaired. The Cardinal was pleased to report that there had been some events at Archbishop’s House in the last few weeks – a good sign of a return to normality after a year and a half. One of these events had been a gathering of young people as part of the Diocesan Synodal process. There had also been a meeting of the Deans of the Diocese. His Eminence thanked members for attending and for their ongoing support of the Society.
Fr Peter Harris is Chairman of the Westminster Diocesan Historic Churches Committee and led the restoration of the Throne Room some years ago. He gave us a wonderful talk on the history, architecture, design and construction of Archbishop’s House. He brought to life Bentley’s vision and the contributions made by Cardinals Vaughan and Bourne. Fr Peter told the story of the House, captivating the audience with colourful details. The revelation of the Throne Room’s original wallpaper which had been hidden behind hessian for nearly sixty years was startling. He kindly took several questions and re-fired our interest in this magnificent building.
The Chairman thanked Fr Peter for his brilliant lecture and the Cardinal for his hospitality. Fr Peter then led several tours of the House during the Reception. It was a most enjoyable evening.