Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Now and Then II - Low Week Luncheon

The above image hangs in the Clergy House Dining Room, and shows Cardinal Vaughan presiding at the Low Week Luncheon in 1902. Until very recently, the Catholic hierarchy met at Westminster in Low Week (the week following Easter Week) in conference.

The same scene today - minus the Bishops and the butlers! Noteworthy is the table, which predates the Cathedral and was in the former Archbishop's House in Carlisle Place. Noteworthy, too, is the centrepiece, a silver representation of the Commission to Peter, surmounted by a palm tree. Perhaps there are a few less fronds, but the object survives in situ after a hundred years.

The old photograph shows that the ancillary buildings of the Cathedral (now known as Archbishop's House and Clergy House) were completed before the Cathedral. The Cathedral itself was not completed until 1903, at which time Cardinal Vaughan was fatally ill. In those early days, there was no separate House for the Archbishop and his Cathedral clergy. It was Vaughan's successor - Cardinal Francis Bourne - who divided the building up, and created a separate establishment for the Archbishop. Accordingly, much of the furniture shown - and the pictures - are now removed to the Archbishop's House. You can make out, centre left, a portrait of Challoner, and above the door Bishop Gifford, now gracing the main staricase of the Archbishop's residence.

As to identifying the sitters; at the top of the table, mid-right, sits Cardinal Vaughan. Others I can identify are - Samuel Allen, Bishop of Shrewsbury (rear, second from left); Robert Brindle, Bishop of Nottingham (rear, third from left); Thomas Whiteside, Archbishop of Liverpool (rear, sixth from left, sitting back); Francis Bourne, Bishop of Southwark and Cardinal Vaughan's successor in the following year (front, second from right). On the extreme left, looking over his spectacles and doing a good impression of Monsignor Norris, is Monsignor William Johnston, then diocesan secretary and Provost of the Westminster Chapter, who in 1905 became titular Bishop of Arindela and one of two auxiliaries in Westminster. He has a wonderful face - and I can't resist giving you another image of him!

As Vicar General, he would have called in priests to account; one glance over those spectacles, and I daresay that even the most truculent cleric would be reduced to meek ecclesiastical obedience!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great picture! He has the same look that I received from my old headmistress on more than one occasion!
Looking forward to more then and now photos....