As last year, I can start my report with news of a delightful outing in June, this year to Stonor Park, as guests of Lord Camoys whose family has lived in the house for more than eight centuries. It was a stunning day in a most beautiful part of Oxfordshire and a good friend of the Society, Canon Richard Hearn of St George’s Cathedral Southwark, said mass for us in the Stonor family chapel. He made particular mention of the privilege he felt in saying mass at the same altar as St Edmund Campion and other dedicated priests of the Reformation era. After an excellent lunch, we were treated to informative guided tours of the house and were able to enjoy the delights of the house’s sun-drenched gardens.
The previous month’s AGM was a routine affair and members seemed pleased to finish early and proceed to the reception hosted by Cardinal Vincent, in his normal generous and welcoming mood. A main reason for the shortness of the AGM was the lack of accounts to be presented to the meeting because of production delays. Again I should like to thank those members present at the meeting for their forbearance, and I can confirm now that the accounts have subsequently been agreed by the Council, approved by the independent examiner and lodged with the Charity Commission of England and Wales – in good time.
I take any opportunity to thank all the members of the Council for their hard work and support and the occasion of this newsletter is no exception. At the AGM we said goodbye to Maggie Hood as a Council member. Her place has been taken by Cliona Howell, a practising solicitor who was of great assistance to us when we drafted the new Rules adopted in 2014. Thank you Maggie, and welcome to Cliona.
Talking of the new Rules of the Society, many of you will recall that we introduced fixed terms of five years for members of the Council, with the option of re-election for a further five year term. This was done to ensure that new Council members would not feel they were making a commitment for life, and to foster a continuing introduction of new blood into the Council to address the changing challenges and opportunities that the Society will face in the future.
These new terms apply to all members of the Council and my term as Chairman expires at the 2018 AGM. Considering the fact that the start of my service on the Council goes back to 1998, I shall have far exceeded the new 10 year maximum by May 2018 and I have concluded that it would be inappropriate to seek another term. So next year I shall be handing over the job of Chairman and standing down from the Council. I have no doubt that I shall leave the Council in good hands, and I hope I shall leave the Society in good shape for the future.
Finally, this newsletter is accompanied by an invitation to the Autumn Reception to be held in Archbishop’s House on Wednesday 18 October (Please note that this has been postponed one day from the previously-announced date, at Cardinal Vincent’s request). This year’s guest speaker will be Dr Peter Howell who will talk about the history of Archbishop’s House. Dr Howell has had a notable academic career, with special emphasis on the Victorian era, is actively involved with The Victorian Society and is a current member of the Westminster Cathedral Art and Architecture Committee.
I hope as many of you as possible will be able to join us and I will repeat my request that, if you continue to believe that ours is a worthy cause and you enjoy being a member, please don’t be shy about bringing prospective members as well!