Sarah Bernhardt. Requiem at Westminster Cathedral April 1923


I like this one, it’s got a great, great grandfather , and a first cousin four times removed (by marriage) in it, and an A-list cast of luvvies.

Sarah Bernhardt c.1878

A Requiem Mass for Madame Sarah Bernhardt, the famous French tragedienne, was celebrated on Tuesday, at Westminster Cathedral, in the presence of a congregation that filled the building to the doors. The occasion was organized as a London tribute to the memory of the dead actress, and brought to the Cathedral a very representative gathering. Although the Mass did not begin until half-past eleven, many who wished to be present were in their seats as early as nine o’clock, whilst a large number of those who came later to assist at the ordinary half-past ten Mass remained for the Requiem an hour later. In the absence of the Cardinal Archbishop, who was presiding at the Bishop’s Low Week meeting, the Bishop of Cambysopolis presided. The King was represented by the Hon. Henry Stonor and Queen Alexandra by Major Edward Seymour, whilst Colonel Waterhouse was present as representing the Prime Minister.

Westminster Cathedral

The Royal representatives and the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs, who attended in state, were received at the entrance to the Cathedral by the Administrator, Mgr. Howlett, and conducted to specially reserved places.. The French Ambassador was not able to attend personally, but was represented by his wife, the Comtesse de St. Aulaire, who was accompanied by a number of members of the staff of the Embassy. The Belgian Ambassador ; the Polish Minister ; the French Military Attaché ; Sir Edward Elgar ; Mr. T. P. O’Connor, M.P.; the Hon. Maurice Baring; Madame Verneuil and Madame Gross (grand-daughter of Sarah Bernhardt) ; Sir Charles Russell ; Col. Sir Roper Parkington, and Sir Aston Webb (representing the Royal Academy) were also present. Sir Gerald Du Maurier and Sir George Arthur officiated as stewards.

Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth by John Singer Sargent -1889

Among the many notable members of the theatrical and musical professions who attended the Requiem were Madame Albani, Lady Tree, Miss Ellen Terry, Mrs. Kendal, Sir Charles and Lady Hawtrey, Miss Viola Tree, Dame Clara Butt, Dame Nellie Melba, Miss Marie Lahr, Sir Charles and Lady Hawtrey, Mr. Allan Aynesworth, and Mr. George Grossmith.

The Mass was sung unaccompanied to a setting by Palestrina, and the ” Dead March “ was played as the congregation left the building.

The above text was found on p.28,14th April 1923 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

Obituaries of two grandsons: Leonard J. Bidwell ,1916, and Wilfrid Cary-Elwes, 1917

Two Roper-Parkington grandsons died during the First War. Leonard’s  was an accident caused by a soldier’s rucksack leant against a train door, which managed to turn the door-handle so when he leant against it, the door opened and he fell from the moving train. Wilfrid died at the Battle of Bourlon Wood in France on the 27th of November 1917, thirty-four days after arriving in France. He has no known grave.


Midshipman Leonard Bidwell, whose death is announced, was accidentally killed on the 17th instant. He was the eldest son of Mrs. Bidwell, of 15, Upper Wimpole Street, and the late Leonard A. Bidwell, F.R.C.S., and grandson of Sir J. Roper Parkington. Mr. Bidwell was born in August, 1897, joined the Royal Naval College, Osborne, at the Easter term, 1910, and at the outbreak of war was in H.M.S. ” Cumberland ” and saw service in the Cameroons where he was severely wounded. At the time of his death he had not completely recovered, but was employed on special service by the Admiralty. A Requiem Mass was said at St. James’s, Spanish Place, and the burial took place at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Kensal Green. Amongst those present at the funeral service were :—Mrs. Bidwell (mother), the Misses Bidwell (sisters), Master T Bidwell (brother), Fleet Surgeon L. Bidwell, R.N , Miss Edith and Miss Agnes Bidwell, Mr. E. W. Farnall, C.B., Mrs. Farnall, Sir J. Roper Parkington, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Cary-Elwes, Mr. Wilfrid & Miss Lilian Cary-Elwes, Mrs. Sherston Baker, Monsignor Bidwell, Mr. Harry Lawrence. Amongst the naval officers present was Captain Fuller, C.M.G., who was in command of H.M.S. “Cumberland ” during operations in the Cameroons. The Admiralty provided a firing party at the grave, the coffin being carried by men of the R.N.V.R.—R.I.P.

The above text was found on p.24, 29th July 1916  in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

Wilfrid Gervase Cary-Elwes,

Second-Lieut. Wilfrid Gervase Cary-Elwes, Irish Guards, officially reported ” missing, believed killed,” but of whose survival no hopes are entertained, was the eldest son of Mr. Charles Cary-Elwes, of Courtlands, Eltham, Kent, and grandson of Sir J. Roper Parkington. Born nineteen years ago, he was educated at Downside, where he was distinguished as an athlete. On receiving a nomination in the Irish Guards, he went to Sandhurst in 1916, and was gazetted in the August of that year. He was anxious to go to the front, and made repeated efforts to be sent there, but only received marching orders on the eve of his nineteenth birthday. He left for the front on October 25, and fell on November 27.

The above text was found on p.28,15th December 1917,  in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

The Papal Jubilee – Rome, 1908


This was the jubilee to celebrate fifty years of Pope Pius X being a priest. In family terms, the baton has been passed from Mgr Henry O’Bryen as a papal chaplain, to Mgr Manuel Bidwell; though they weren’t related to each other.

Vatican City Bridge and St Peters

Sunday, November 22, 1908.


Judging by some appearances, there were many pilgrims in Rome who did not go to bed at all last Sunday night ; for long before the dawn, indeed as early as four o’clock, a very early newspaper bird found a group of over a hundred of them waiting patiently outside the doors of St. Peter’s. Alas, that such patience should have been utterly without its reward, for some two hours later a whole regiment of soldiers marched sleepily and silently into the great Piazza, mercifully dislodging the peaceable enemy and making it take up its position at the foot of the steps leading to the Basilica, where it was hardly better off than the thousands and tens of thousands that arrived between six and seven o’clock. During the hours of waiting they had the satisfaction of watching the Italian troops make a series of wonderful evolutions for some recondite object, probably known to the commanding officers ; but shortly before eight the first chapter of the waiting closed, when those possessing tickets were allow to pass through a hedge of bayonets, and to enter the Basilica. Here it was warmer and more interesting.

The immense interior was decorated in festive damask ; a broad space, secured by a wooden barrier and by a double line of the Palatine Guard, was left open in the centre, and two hours more passed quietly and pleasantly enough, in spite of the crush (and the crush was in parts so thick that there were a few cases of fainting), and the long standing—for it was impossible to plant even a tiny campstool anywhere. It is estimated that St. Peter’s when quite full will “stand” about ninety-thousand persons, but last Monday the space between the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament and that of the Pieta was curtained off; so was the opening all down the centre, and the free wide circle round the papal altar, and the entire apse reserved for the dignitaries, and the tribunes, which meant that a third of the available space was unavailable for the eager multitude ; and so there must have been between fifty and sixty thousand persons present when the trumpets rang out the glad news that the procession, till now hidden by the acres of curtain on the right, had begun to move, and the first notes of the Sistine choir were heard, faintly at first, but growing louder and stronger each moment until even those in the far distance in the transepts could distinguish the “Ecce Sacerdos Magnus !”

It had been announced very sternly that on this occasion there were to be no tribunes except those reserved for the Pope’s Family, Royalty, the Roman Patriciate, the Knights of Malta, and the Diplomatic Corps. But there were vacant spaces under the two choirs and in a few other places which afforded a little room for benches, and so a couple of hundred persons did after all secure a special position. The tribune next to the throne, divided only by an invisible barrier from that of the Roman Patriciate (which was full), was occupied by the Holy Father’s brother, his three sisters, his nephew Mgr. Parolin, and his niece ; the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta with nearly all the chief dignitaries left no vacant places in the tribune reserved for them ; the Royal tribune held the Princess Matilda of Saxony, and the Grand Duchess Xenia of Russia with her consort the Grand Duke Michaivich and their seven children ;

Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich of Russia and his wife Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna.

a score or so of Extraordinary Embassies and Missions sent by Emperors, Kings, Queens, and Presidents to represent them at the Pope’s Jubilee had their own place of distinction, as had the entire diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, and all these tribunes glistened with brilliant uniforms and flashing decorations. This time also a position of distinction was reserved for the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, which was represented by Count Fabio Fani, Procurator of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, for the Knights residing in Rome, Sir Thomas H. Grattan Esmonde, M.P., representative of the Order in Ireland, and Mgr. Rivelli, a Knight Commander of the Order. Among the English-speaking Chamberlains on duty at the tribunes were the Marquis MacSwiney, Colonel Bernard, Chev. De Falloux Schuster, and Comm. Christmas, while among the others who took part in the historic function were Mr. Stuart A. Coats, the Hon. A. Wilmot and Captain Bartle Teeling. Mgr. Bidwell was one of the four Chamberlains in attendance on the Holy Father.


Long before the Holy Father himself appeared before the expectant gaze of the multitude the procession was moving rhythmically up the middle of the basilica. A Pontifical Master of Ceremonies led it, followed immediately by Papal Chamberlains of Sword and Cape, both private and honorary, the Procurators di Collegio, the Apostolic Preacher with the Confessor of the Pontifical Household, the Procurators General of the Mendicant Orders, the Bussolanti, the Custodian of the Tiaras flanked by two Chamberlains bearing the tiaras, the Private Chaplains bearing the mitres, two mace-bearers with silver maces, the Assistants of the Chamber, the Private Chaplains, the Private Clerics, the Honorary Chaplains, Consistorial Advocates, the supernumerary Honorary and Private Chamberlains, the Auditors of the Rota, the Master of the Apostolic Palaces, Prince Ruspoli, Master of the Sacred Hospice, Mgr. Bressan with the ordinary.mitre of the Holy Father, the thurifer, the Papal Cross borne by Mgr. Pescini, surrounded by seven clerics, Mgr. Sincero, Auditor of the Rota, and Apostolic Sub-deacon, between the Greek deacon and subdeacon of the Mass, the Penitentiaries of St. Peter’s preceded by clerics bearing the Verga decorated with flowers, the Abbots General of the Religious Orders and the Abbots nullius, the Bishops, Arch-bishops, and Patriarchs, a long line of prelates of the Latin and Oriental Churches numbering almost three hundred, the Sacred College of Cardinals, represented by thirty-five of its members, and then the Pope—  borne aloft over the heads of the people on the sedia gestatoria carried securely on the shoulders of twelve stalwart pontifical chair-bearers, with two Chamberlains on either side bolding the long flabellm, and surrounded by the Commandant and the officers of the Swiss Guard, and by four guards bearing the four great medimval swords that symbolise the four cantons of Switzerland, by Prince Rospigliosi, Commandant of the Noble Guard with his officers, by Count Pecci, Commandant of the Palatine Guard, and by numerous mace-bearers and functionaries, while the Marquis Clemente Sacchetti, charged as Foriere Maggiore with the duty of watching over the moving throne, walked immediately behind it, and before Cardinals Segna and Della Volpe, who were to assist the Pope at the Mass. The second part of he procession consists of the Dean of the Rota, the two Grand Chamberlains on duty, the Pope’s Physician, the Majordomo, the Protonotaries Apostolic, and the Regent of the Apostolic Chancellery, and then the Generals of the Religious Orders and Congregations.


There is hardly a sound to be heard throughout the basilica as the Pontiff passes along between the crowds, blessing on either side, but almost everybody present seems to be waving silently a white handkerchief— a curiously impressive sight to one looking down on it from above, and noting how in a moment the black sea of heads is transformed into a fluttering white ocean. Only as the Pope reaches the section reserved for the pilgrims from the Venetian province, where perhaps he bends a little more towards the people as he forms again and again the sign of the cross with his hand, he hears a low murmur from the proud and affectionate people there asking God to bless him, and he is for a moment visibly moved.

All had taken their places in the sanctuary when the “sedia gestatoria” reaches it, is softly lowered to the ground, and the Pope advances to one of the two thrones where he receives the obedience of the Cardinals, and some Archbishops, Bishops and Abbots. Then he is vested for the Mass while “Nones” [part of the Divine Office]  is being sung. He assumes the pontifical vestment known as the ” fanone”, and the Mass is begun, his Holiness being assisted by Cardinal, Serafino Vannutelli, as assistant priest, by Cardinals Segna and Dela Volpe as assistant deacons, and by Cardinal Cagiano as ministering deacon. The ceremonies of the Mass were the same as on all similar occasions, and the music was rendered by two choirs, the Sistine under Perosi, and a Gregorian made up chiefly of students under Mgr. Rella. At the end of the ceremony Cardinal Rampolla fulfilled the ancient custom of offering the celebrant a purse containing 25 giulii (about half-a-sovereign)    ” for a Mass well sung.” Everybody from the altar to the door tried hard, but not always effectually, to kneel as the Pope intoned his blessing. The procession was formed again, and passed back by the path it had come, and shortly the red curtains in front of the Chapel of the Pieta hid the Jubilarian Pontiff from the people.

The bleak and wintry weather which filled the rest of the day in Rome did not prevent the multitudes from coming out after dusk to witness the illuminations of the facade and colonnade of St. Peter’s, of all the houses in the Borgo, of all the churches and religious houses of Rome, and of a great number of the private dwellings ; but it did prevent the sight that was most eagerly looked forward to, that of the illumination of St. Peter’s dome, an event not witnessed since ” black ’70.”  [ The fall of Rome to the Italians in 1870] However, the disappointment was remedied on Thursday, when the rain stopped for half an hour as if on purpose to gladden the multitude with the wonderful sight.

The Dome of St Peter’s

The above text was found on p.17, 28th November 1908 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

The Julian Watts-Russell monument, Rome, April 1894

San Tommaso Canterbury, Via di Monserrato, Roma,

I stumbled across this recently, and it is one of those nice curiosities that happen from time to time. The initial interest was sparked by the fact that two of the contributors to the monument are Mgr O’Bryen, and the then Rev. Manuel Bidwell.  Almost thirty years later Manuel, by then the rather grand sounding Bishop of Miletopolis, married the O’Bryen great-grandparents [his first cousin (once removed) and Uncle Henry’s nephew.]

The two churchmen were at either end of their church careers, and at least a generation apart in age.  Henry was fifty nine at the time, having spent almost twenty years as a papal diplomat, and would be dead eighteen months later. Manuel was only twenty two, and had just started studying in Rome at the French Seminary, and the Academy of Noble Ecclesiastics, having already gained a B.Sc. in Paris, and then studied Applied Science, at King’s College, London.  He was ordained in Rome four years later in 1898, where the assistant priest at his first mass was Mgr, and later Cardinal, Merry del Val.

So the initial spark was the curiosity of a great great uncle, and a first cousin three times removed both having been connected together, but the more one looks at the list of donors to the memorial, the grander they become, and the more it shines alight at the still glittering peaks at the top of the church. I’ll come back to that in another post. But for now, a simple explanation of who Julian Watts-Russell was.

He was a Pontifical Zouave, who was killed in the battle of Mentana, Nov. 3, 1867. The Papal Zouaves  were an infantry force formed for the defence of the Papal States in 1860. The battle of Mentana was “the last victory of the Church in arms,”  [ a interesting choice of words from the Tablet in 1967]  three years before the capture of Rome by the Italian army ending eleven hundred years of temporal papal rule. Julian Watts-Russell aged seventeen, was the youngest casualty of the battle,  “one who may be called the last of the English martyrs” [ The Tablet 1894]


The monument is now finished, with the  exception of the Mentana medal-cross, and will be placed in the English College Church  during the coming week. By a singular coincidence, Captain Shee has recently come to Rome. He is a hero of Mentana, and received nine wounds in 1870, and is one of those who buried the body of Julian Watts-Russell after his death, and exhumed it when brought to Rome. In connection with present events, it may be well to record the inscription on Julian’s tomb in the Campo Verano :











The above text was found on p.17, 7th April 1894 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

” The Julian Watts-Russell monument is now completed. The expenses have been defrayed  by the contributions of the following persons,  chiefly members of the English-speaking colony in Rome : His Grace the Archbishop of Trebizond [the Hon. and Rt. Rev. Mgr. Stonor,],  Monsignori Merry del Val, Stanley, Giles, and O’Bryen ; the Very Rev. Joseph Bannin, S.M., the Rev. John L. Prior, D.D. (Vice-Rector of the English College), the Rev. Michael Watts-Russell, C.P. ; the Rev. G. Phillips and the Rev. Dr. Preston, of Ushaw College ; the Rev. C. R. Lindsay, the Rev. Manuel Bidwell, the Rev. Students of the English College, Alderman Sir Stuart Knill, Mr. E. Granville Ward, Miss Watts-Russell, Mr. C. W. Worlledge, Dr. J. J. Eyre, Mr. C. Spedding, Mr. C. Astor Bristead, and Mr. W. Cagger.

The Mentana monument, which has been already described, has been erected upon a base of white Carrara marble and surmounted with a Mentana medal-cross in exact imitation of that which it replaces. The whole has been placed in the Church of St. Thomas, in the corner of the Gospel side of the altar, near the memorial slabs of distinguished modern English Catholics buried in the church. The inscription on the base succinctly recalls the history of the monument:


The letters of the original inscription, which were badly damaged, have been restored and made legible even from a distance. The restoration of the monument has cost 300 francs, and it is proposed to apply the remainder of the money contributed to restoring his grave.”

The above text was found on p.17, 12th May 1894 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .



The monument is now finished, with the  exception of the Mentana medal-cross, and will be placed in the English College Church  during the coming week. By a singular coincidence, Captain Shee has recently come to Rome. He is a hero of Mentana, and received nine wounds in 1870, and is one of those who buried the body of Julian Watts-Russell after his death, and exhumed it when brought to Rome. In connection with present events, it may be well to record the inscription on Julian’s tomb in the Campo Verano :











The above text was found on p.17, 7th April 1894 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

The Annual Dinner of the Benevolent Society for the Relief of the Aged and Infirm Poor. 1904

The Benevolent Society for the Relief of the Aged and Infirm Poor. was the oldest Catholic charity in London  founded in 1761 by Richard Challoner, the Vicar Apostolic of the London District [ the forerunner of the Archbishop of Westminster] between 1758 and 1781. It’s a nice worthy Catholic, and City cause, and it’s nice seeing eight members of the family all there. Having said that, only five were related at the time, another two came from a marriage twenty years later, and the final connection from a marriage fifty two years later.

At least at this one, Lieut.-General Sir William Butler’s speech is rather better than John Roper Parkington’s the following year.


The Annual Dinner in aid of the funds of this excellent charity was held on Monday last, and brought together a large number of the friends and supporters of the society.

Lieut.-General Sir William Butler, K.C.B., presided, and among the company present were the Hon. Charles Russell, Colonel Sir Roper Parkington, Colonel Maguire, Major J. H. White, V.D., Commendatore Hicks, C.C.S.G. ; the Very Revv. Canon Fleming, Canon Keatinge, Canon Murnane, Canon Pycke ; the Very Revv. J. P. Bannin, P.S.M., M. Kelly, O.S.A., D.D., P. J. Murphy, S.M. ; the Revv. Manuel J.Bidwell, D.D., Robert Bracey, 0.P., T. Carey, H. W. Casserly, Alexander Charnley, S.J., W. J. Condon, D. Corkery, G. B. Cox, J. Crowley, E. du Plerny, J. Egan, W. J. Hogan, S. E. Jarvis, I.C., W. Lewis Keatinge, Hugh Kelly, Mark A. Kelly, A. Muller, D.D., J. Musgrave T. F. Norris, J. O’Doherty, M. O’Sullivan, T. J. Ring, P. Riordan, C. A. Shepherd, E. Smith, C. J. Moncrieff Smyth, Francis Stanfield, J. G. Storey, W. 0. Sutcliffe, M.A., J. S. Tasker, E. A. P. Theed, Leo Thomas, S.M., A. E. Whereat, D.D. ; and Messrs. P. M. Albrecht, Frank Beer, Edmund J. Bellord, John G. Bellord, Harry Booth, James Carroll, J. H. Caudell, John Christie, A. K. Connolly, James W. Connolly, John A. Connolly, S. F. Connolly, P. F. Dorte, LL.B., Victor I. Feeny, H. Malins Fisher, A. C. Fowler, W. B. Hallett, Anthony Hasslacher,Charles Hasslacher, Jerome S. Hegarty, J. D. Hodgson, . Skelton Hodgson, S. Taprell Holland (Hon. Treasurer), J. M. Hopewell, John Hurst, John Hussey, R. H. N. Johnson, J. Virtue Kelly, C. Temple Layton, C.C., Charles E. Lewis, Bernard J. McAdam, James P. McAdam (Hon. Secretary), J. M. McGrath, C. A. Mackenzie, Herbert J. T. Measures, E. H. Meyer, A. C. O’Bryen, M.I.E.E., Ernest A. O’Bryen, Wilfrid W. Parker, Louis Perry, Joseph J. Perry, R. J. Phillips, Henry Schiller, J. H. Sherwin, Robert Shield, Eugene Simona, Joseph Simona, Joseph Sperati, James Stone, J. S. R. Towsey, William Towsey, C. H. Walker, Augustine E. White, Basil J. White, C. B. Wildsmith, P. G. Winter, H. Witte, C. J. Woollett, M.D., &c., &c.


The Chairman, in proposing the toast “The Pope and the King,” said : Catholics need no explanation of the toast I have now the high honour of proposing. By coupling together the name of Pope and King we reaffirm and maintain and continue that old tradition of Church and State which has existed in all civilised Christian communities for so many hundreds of years. I give you the healths of his Holiness the Pope and of his Majesty the King, and when we drink this toast with all loyalty and all honour, it would be well to remember the words of the old cavalier. Speaking to his son in the days of the Civil War, he said : “Son, if the crown should come so low that thou seest it hanging upon a bush, still stick to it.” (Loud cheers.)

The Chairman : The next toast I have to propose is that of the Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and other members of the Royal Family. This toast meets with an enthusiastic greeting wherever it is proposed, but I venture to think there is no place where it can strike a deeper and truer note of harmony and devotion than when it is proposed at the gathering of a Society which has for its object the relief of the poor and the suffering. (Cheers.) The prerogatives of the Crown and the privileges of Parliament have oftentimes been the cause of civil disturbances in this country, but to-day the prerogative of Royalty is to lessen in every possible way the sufferings of the poor and of those who toil and labour for a livelihood. (Hear, hear.) Into the privileges of Parliament I will not enter, but it is our special privilege to-night to recognise in a special manner all that we owe to the Queen, to the Prince and Princess of Wales, and other members of the Royal Family.


After these two toasts had been acknowledged with musical honours, the Chairman proposed the toast of the evening, ” The Benevolent Society for the Relief of the Aged and Infirm Poor.” He said : I have now to propose to you a toast which brings very vividly before my mind the fact of my own un-worthiness in being the medium through which this toast is to be offered to the gathering tonight. (No, no.) And when I look back to the names of those who in former years fulfilled this duty, my feelings approach those of absolute dismay, because I find the toast has been submitted by some of the most revered, the most honoured amongst the Catholic body of this country, both clerical and lay. I can only plead for myself and ask you to accept the fact of my unworthiness as an excuse for being unable to do adequate justice to my task. (No, no.) This charity goes back a long way. It suggests many thoughts to even the most superficial amongst us. It has had, I believe, now well-nigh I50 years of existence. (Hear, hear.) The people who founded it were very different to what we are to-day. They had a great deal more of the world’s kicks and a great deal less of the world’s happiness. One hundred and fifty years ago the clouds of the penal laws hung darkly over the country. I will not refer to them further beyond saying that the remembrance of that period should deepen and intensify our desire to do good to the poor, to those whom the abrogation or even the existence of penal laws matters little, and whose social life is set so far below those of happier circumstances. We take a great interest in politics, but how little we would care for the most sensational paragraph in The Daily Mail if we had no breakfast-table to spread it upon, and more, if we had no breakfast to enable us to digest its amazing contents. (Loud laughter.) I see in the newspapers a great deal about free food, the big loaf and the little loaf. I wonder what our poorer brethren think of all these things—the big loaf, the little loaf, and the three acres and a cow. (Hear, hear, and laughter.) I can fancy some of these poor people, who have waited many years for the fulfilment of some of these marvellous promises, exclaiming ” If you cannot give us three acres, give us at least the cow.” (Cheers.) If we cannot give them the cow we can at least put some milk into their tea. (Loud and continued cheers.) They have claims upon us,.these old veterans of the poor. We may ask ourselves who are they ? I think I am right in saying they are the survivors, the few survivors, of a great army. (Hear, hear.) They are the scattered survivors of tens of thousands of a great army of workpeople out of whose sweat we are living. (Hear, hear.) These old veterans become eligible as candidates for this Society only when they have reached the ripe old age of 60 years. Think for a moment how many of their comrades must have fallen on that long road which they have travelled for half a century, or even longer. I look at the list of pensioners and I see their ages reach from 60 to 90. Two facts come home to me when I read the report of the Society. The first is the liberal gifts and benefactions of many of the large merchant princes of this city. (Cheers.) The second fact is that so many who respond to the appeal of the Society are from my own country—Ireland. (Loud cheers.) You remember the story of the boat’s-crew cast adrift on the ocean. Believing their last hour had come they thought they should do something appropriate to the occasion. Unfortunately there was no one amongst them who remembered the prayers of their youth, so they decided upon making a collection. (Loud laughter.) I do not for a moment suppose that any of my brethren who were unfortunate enough to find themselves in a similar position would have to resort to making a contribution to the seals and the seagulls, but I do venture to say that the most prayerful man amongst us could not offer any truer praise to his Creator, or do a more charitable act to his fellow creature than to contribute generously and unstintingly to a Society such as that which we have met to honour this evening. (Cheers.) There are few names come down from the remote past more identified with this great city of London than the name of Martin the apostle, the Roman soldier before he was Roman Bishop. The speaker, after relating the story of Martin dividing his coat to protect a poor beggar from the ravages of the weather, and the vision which he afterwards saw, said London was still, outwardly at least, largely Martin. Perhaps some portion of his mantle, said the speaker in conclusion, has descended upon this great city, still keeping alive his name and the spirit of charity to the poor. (Cheers.)  3rd December 1904, Page 23

Bidwell – Roper Parkington 1896

A marriage has been arranged, and will shortly take place, between MR. LEONARD ARTHUR BIDWELL, F.R.C.S., 59, Wimpole-street, and DOROTHEA MARIE LOUISE, eldest daughter of Major J. Roper Parkington, 6, Devonshire-place.

The above text was found on p.30, 4th July 1896 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

The Austin’s son William marries Dolly Bidwell the Bidwell’s daughter thirty years later in 1926.


BIDWELL—PARKINGTON.—On October 28, at St. James’, Spanish place, by the Very Rev. Canon Barry, assisted by the Very Rev. Provost Moore and the Rev. Herbert Laughton, Leonard Arthur Bidwell, F.R.C.S., of 59, Wimpole-street, W., to Dorothea Marie Louise, eldest daughter of Major Roper Parkington, J.P., of 6, Devonshire-place, W.

The above text was found on p.13, 14th November 1896 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

John Roper Parkington’s obituary – The Times, January,1924


The funeral of Sir John Roper Parkington took place yesterday at Mortlake Cemetery. Before the interment Solemn Requiem Mass was sung at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Edge-hill, Wimbledon, to which the body had been removed from Broadwater Lodge over- night. The celebrant was the Rev. Father Ignatius O’Gorman, assisted by the Rev. Father R. Dalrymple, as deacon, and Mr. Rogers, as sub-deacon. Lady Parkington was unable to be present owing to ill-health, and the chief mourners were Lady Sherston Baker | (daughter), Miss Sherston Baker (grand- daughter), Mrs. Bidwell (daughter), the Misses Bidwell (granddaughters), Mr. Thomas and Mr. Edward Bidwell (grandsons), Mr. and Mrs. Cary-Elwes (son-in-law and daughter), the Misses Cary-Elwes (granddaughters), and Mr. Evelyn, Mr. Eustace, and Mr. Oswald Cary- Elwes (grandsons). Others present included Bishop Bidwell. Miss Faudel-Phillips. Mr. G. H. Barton,, Mr. W. N. Osborne Miss Hardy, Mr. C ffennell. Mr. L. Constable. Father Bampton. S..J.. representatives of City Companies and organizations with which Sir Roper Parkington was connected. and of the 3rd Battalion East Surrey Regiment and the 7th (V.B.) Essex Regiment, of which he had been a maJor and honorary colonel respectively.

The Times, January 18, 1924. p 15

Requiem Mass for Italy September 1918

John Roper Parkington, and Uncle Manuel (Bidwell) are both in the congregation.


The flag of Italy floating from every high point in London on Wednesday was a sign that the hearts of our people were beating in sympathy and with admiration for Italy, in her work and trials and losses in the war. It was a day marked by great gatherings and demonstrations, the first of which was appropriately a Solemn High Mass of Requiem at Westminster Cathedral for the repose of Italy’s sons who had fallen in the fighting on the Carso, the Asiago Plateau, and the Piave. ” Westminster Cathedral,” says the Times, ” lends itself to thoughts of Italy and of the noble dead. Its grand and simple lines and the bareness of its walls are in stern keeping with the solemnity of the hour, and the unwonted sunlight of the morning ,threw into strong relief the Italian baldachin and marble-lined sanctuary, suggestive of Italy’s own beautiful and finished achievements which stand out in the great fabric of her hopes.” Before the sanctuary a catafalque had been erected, covered by a pall on which lay the Italian colours, and around it stood a guard of ten Royal Carabinieri under the command of an officer.

Outside, in the precincts of the Cathedral, on the facade of which floated the Italian and British flags, stood crowds of people, whilst within a great multitude had gathered long before the hour appointed for the service. The congregation included many distinguished figures. Facing the catafalque on the left hand were seated the Duke of Connaught, representing the King; the Hon. Sir Sidney Greville, on behalf of the Prince of Wales; and Colonel Streatfeild for Queen Alexandra. On the right of the catafalque were the Lord Mayor of London, with his guest, Don Prospero Colonna, Prince of Sonnino, Syndic of Rome; the Sheriffs of the City of London, and the Mayor of Westminster, in their State robes. There was a large number of the Corps Diplomatique present, most of whom wore full uniform, and they were accommodated with seats immediately behind the Royal representatives. Prince Borghese, the Italian Charge d’Affaires, occupied the first seat on the right, and next to him were the French and Japanese Ambassadors. The Government was represented by the Lord Chancellor, Mr. Balfour, Mr. Bonar Law, and many others, and there were also present Mr. Asquith, Lord and Lady Edmund Talbot, the Duchess of Norfolk, Lady Mary Howard, Sir John and Lady Knill, and Sir Roper Parkington. The personnel of the Italian Embassy and the officials of the Italian Red Cross Society superintended the seating of the congregation, and the Royal representatives and other distinguished mourners were received as they arrived by Mgr. Howlett, Administrator of the Cathedral.

Cardinal Bourne

The Cardinal Archbishop presided at the Mass, which was sung by the Bishop of Cambysopolis, and gave the Absolutions at the close. Amongst the clergy present were Bishop Keatinge (chief Catholic Army Chaplain), Bishop Bidwell, and the Canons of the Metropolitan Chapter. The music was rendered by the Royal Carabinieri Band, which before the Mass played selections from Pergolesi’s ” Stabat Mater,” and the National Anthem as the Duke of Connaught, representing the King, passed up the nave to his appointed seat. During the Mass the beautiful Requiem of Francisco Anerio was sung by the choir, under the direction of Dr. Terry. Of this music the Daily Telegraph said on Thursday :—” There is surely little that for transcendent beauty can equal Anerio’s ‘ Mass of Requiem,’ and when this is sung, as it was yesterday, it creates an effect that is overwhelming in its poignancy, and by its simple yet magnificent grandeur, and, as it were, appropriateness. It is truly wonderful, for, even though the years roll on, staling so much that is mundane, this glorious music remains unsullied, untouched, unstaled.” Our contemporary also summed up its description of the scene and the function as being ” all inexpressibly beautiful.”

At the close the National Anthem of Italy was played by the Carabinieri.

The above text was found on p.22, 28th September 1918 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

Also death of Fr Raymond Stanfield and the Count of Torre-Diaz in the same issue

Cardinal Bourne receives his hat – Reception at Archbishop’s House 1912


Archbishop’s House – Main Staircase

On Tuesday the opportunity was afforded to a great crowd of lay Catholics of offering their respectful congratulations and affectionate homage to their Cathedral at Archbishop’s House. The numbers that attended and kissed the ring and spoke a few words of congratulation and good wishes, testified both to the popularity of the Cardinal Archbishop and the delight with which his people have welcomed the honour conferred upon him by the Holy Father.


Previous to the general reception his Eminence received the members of the Catholic Women’s League of the Province of Westminster. Mrs. J. S. Hope, on behalf of the League, presented him with an address, and the design, prepared by Mr. John A. Marshall, the Cathedral’s architect, of the metropolitan processional cross which they purpose presenting to the Cardinal on its completion in May or June next. This beautiful work of art will be in silver, and of Byzantine design, while it will bear the following inscription : “To the glory of God and in homage to Francis Bourne, Cardinal Archbishop, this cross is dedicated and offered by the Catholic Women’s League of the Province of Westminster, 1912.”

Cardinal Bourne
Bishop Manuel Bidwell (3)
Bishop Bidwell

The Cardinal bore traces of fatigue after his recent exertions, and, as he informed his visitors in greeting them, suffered from loss of voice, In attendance were his Gentiluomo, Mr. M. Dunlop, and his private chaplain, Father Lionel Evans. Also present were the Right Rev. the Bishop of Amycla, the Right Rev. the Bishop of Cambysopolis, the Bishops-Auxiliary of the Archdiocese, the Chancellor, the Right Rev. Mgr. Bidwell, the Very Rev. Mgr. Jackman, the Very Rev. Mgr. Carton de Wiart, and Father Henry Daly. The crowds that poured in inconveniently crowded the Reception Room early in the afternoon, and overflowed into the great Throne Room, which before long became also uncomfortably thronged. In this room, laid out, with its great tassels extended, on a table beneath Mr. Ponsonby Staples’ picture of Cardinal Manning’s reception of the laity, was the great Cardinal’s hat, the striking emblem of the Archbishop’s new dignity.

cardinals-hatNo formal address was offered, the presentation of an address and testimonial on the part of the laity, which the Duke of Norfolk is organising, will be made at a later date. Among the well-known people who joined the throng of those anxious to evince their filial devotion were the Duke of Norfolk, Viscountess Clifden, Admiral Lord Walter Kerr, Lady Gifford, Lady Paget, Baroness Gudin, Sir Charles Cuffe, Sir John, Lady, and Miss Knill, Sir William Dunn, Count de Torre Diaz, Comte Jean de Saint-Seine (naval attaché at the French Embassy), the Mayors of Wimbledon and Hammersmith, Captain E. M. Vaughan, Sir Roper Parkington, Agnes Lady Lawson, Sir Westby and Lady Perceval, Lady Boynton and the Misses Boynton, the Hon. Mrs. Erskine, Mrs. Francis Blundell of Crosby and the Misses Blundell, Lady Clifford and Miss Clifford, Lieut.-Col. W. Haskett Smith, Col. C. H. Plowden, Lady Shephard, Sir Charles Paston-Cooper, Mr. and Mrs. Snead-Cox, Mr. and Mrs. Wilfrid Ward, the Earl of Denbigh, Lord Braye, Mr. and Mrs. Witham, Colonel and Mrs. Smith, Mrs. and Miss Mayne, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Walmesley, Mrs. Moore, Hon. Mary Thesiger, Hon. Mrs. Stapleton Bretherton, Lady A’Beckett, Mr. C. Faudel Phillips, Contessa Maffei, Captain R. H. Spearman, C.B.B., Major F. T. Hemelryk, C.B.B., Miss Martindale, Mrs. George Law, and Mrs. Carmody.

The above text was found on p.33, 27th January 1912 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .

Cathedral Requiems for Benedict XV

Benedict XV

In the Catholic cathedrals throughout the kingdom solemn requiem Masses have been offered for the repose of the soul of Benedict XV. The great gathering at Westminster Cathedral on Friday of last week, when a requiem was sung in the presence of representatives of the Royal Family and members of the diplomatic corps of many nations, was the central official function ; but in the other dioceses also the scenes were no less impressive in the gathering together of prelates and clergy, with civic and other public representatives and overflowing congregations, in homage to the memory and prayer for the soul of the late Sovereign Pontiff.



From an early hour in the morning, Catholics from all parts of London were assembling at Westminster Cathedral, and long before the hour appointed for the requiem all the unreserved seats were occupied and the aisles filled with standing crowds. A large portion of the nave had been reserved, and among those received and conducted to their seats by Mgr. Howlett, the Administrator, were the Lord Chamberlain (the Duke of Atholl), representing the King, and Earl Howe, representing Queen Alexandra ; besides a large number of distinguished Catholics and others. Almost every State in the world sent its representatives, whose brilliant uniforms relieved the prevailing black of the congregation. The catafalque, covered with a pall of black and gold, was surmounted by a facsimile of the papal tiara. westminster-cathedral-1The Mass was sung by Bishop Butt, assisted by Fathers Tibot and Smith as deacon and subdeacon. Father Hall was the assistant priest, and Fathers Dove and Beckett M.C.s. Nearly two hundred prelates and clergy, secular and regular, of Westminster and the neighbouring dioceses were present in the sanctuary, including Bishop Bidwell, Bishop Keatinge; Mgri. Canons Surmont, V.G., Moyes, Brown, and other members of the Cathedral Chapter and clergy ; Mgr. Carton de Wiart, Mgr. Brown, V.G. (Southwark); the Abbots of Farnborough, Fort-Augustus, and Woolhampton ; Priors O’Connor and Higgins, C.R.L. ; Fathers Bodkin (Provincial) and Galton (Superior, Farm Street), S.J., Bede Jarrett (Provincial) and Vincent McNabb, 0.P., Dr. Brendan, O.S.F.C., and many other representatives of religious orders and congregations. The music was Anerio’s Mass for four voices unaccompanied, with Motet by Miller at the offertory, ” Justorum Animae,” and some plainsong settings. The Absolutions were given by the three Bishops present and by Mgr. Surmont and Mgr. Moyes. At the conclusion Dr. Terry played the Dead March in ” Saul.”

Among the diplomatic and other representatives present were the following :—The Spanish Ambassador and Mme. Merry del Val, the German Ambassador and Mme. Sthamer, the French Ambassador and the Countess de St. Aulaire, the Belgian Ambassador and Mlle Moncheur, the Brazilian Ambassador ; Signor Giuliano Cora, Counsellor to the Italian Embassy, and staff ; the Ministers of Austria, the Argentine,Hungary, Liberia, Nicaragua, Switzerland, Peru, Czecho-Slovakia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Chile, and Bolivia ; Mr. Henry Harris, Secretary to the Legation to the Holy See; Sir Philip Sassoon, Bart., representing the Prime Minister; Sir William Tyrrell, repre-senting the Foreign Office, and Miss Tyrrell ; Mr. A. W. Leeper, of the Foreign Office; representatives of the Pontifical Court ; representatives of the Legations of Cuba, Columbia, the Nether-lands, Poland, Bulgaria, Ecuador, Serbia, Portugal, Greece, Peru, Persia, Latvia, and Rumania,  the Chargé d’Affaires of the Chinese Legation ; Mr. Frederick Pearson, representing the U.S.A. Embassy, and Mrs. Pearson.

Others present included Princess Nina of Russia, the Duchess of Norfolk, Earl and Countess Haig, the Earl of Denbigh (President), Sir Henry Jerningham, Bart. (Vice-President), and Mr. J. S. Franey (Secretary), representing the Catholic Union ; the Dowager Marchioness of Bute, Lord and Lady Rosslyn, Lord. and Lady MacDonnell of Swinford, Adele Countess Cadogan, Lord Lovat, Lord Leigh, Lord Morris, the Right Hon. J. F. Hope, M.P., Viscount and Lady Campden, Sir John Gilbert, K.C.S.G., K.S.S., Mr. Edward Eyre, K.C.S.G., Colonel Sir Arthur Dick, C.B., Sir Roper Parkington, Sir Pierce Lacy, Bart., K.C.S.G., and Lady Lacy, Major-General Sir William Western, K.C.M.G., C.B., Major Wegg-Prosser, and many others.

The above text was found on p.14, 4th February 1922, in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at .