Wed July 11th 07
To Tyburn convent for a celebratory opening and blessing of the new "Disabled Access" - I crossed Hyde Park to see much happening in the Bayswater Road: the scaffolding and wrapping that has swamped the front of the Convent for months now had been removed, and a great crowd was gathering on the pavement. In due course Bishop George Stack, in golden mitre and cope, plus other clergy, processed along, and with plenty of holy water and some prayers, he blessed the new great ramp - or rather, series of ramps - that gives access to the chapel, and then some sort of ribbon was cut by the Government Minister for the Disabled (I couldn't quite see that part, big crowds) and then we all trooped in, led by a lady in a wheelchair and Father Benedict Groeschel with a stick, and the new ramps worked beautifully.
In a packed chapel, there was a glorious Benediction, much hearty singing of the Tantum Ergo, and things finished with a speech by the Rev Mother and a wonderful rendition of "Climb Ever'y Mountain" by guest Lesley Garrett who is v. famous and one hears all the time on Classic FM.. It was all simply terrific, and then there was a lovely tea!
Readers of this blog may recall - as I do - when a new law first decreed that unless there was Access for Disabled People, the convent would have to close its crypt chapel as it would be illegal. There was consternation, because the crypt, with its collection of relics of our Tyrburn Martyrs, is unique. The cost of a massive new lift, ramps etc was prohibitive and the thing seemed impossible. But not with nuns. They prayed. The money came in. And today we heard an even odder twist to the saga: many years ago, before World War 11, officialdom announced that all the houses on that stretch of Bayswater Road must be moved 25 yards back, as the road was to be widened. Well, you can't move a house - it's daft. What to do? The War sorted that out by bombing the convent, and when it was rebuilt they obeyed the regulations and built it 25 yards back. Then, behold, in the 21st century along comes a new regulation - Disabled Access, ramps, lifts....and the 25-yard gap proved just exactly right for this, so the space has been used to comply with this new law!