This one makes me smile for lots of different reasons. It’s ever so slightly pompous, and smug, how could any event being attended by “the Rouge Dragon, Mr. Everard Green” not be? It’s also got quite a lot of the family in it, though strictly speaking only really two, Great Grandpa (OB), and Uncle Frank at this point in the year. Uncle Wilfrid (Parker) and Charlotte Purssell are married nine days later by Father (later Cardinal) Gasquet, Great Granny and Grandpa OB are married in the October, and then finally Agnes marries Edmund Bellord in January 1899.
I also really like the weird quirk that has this dinner happening about a mile and a half away from the Roper Parkington’s Silver Wedding celebration in Bond Street. So both family events happening the same day, but neither yet connected.
And even better, also attending was the current Olympic Gold Medalist for both the Men’s Singles, and Doubles at Tennis, John Pius Boland who was Irish.
The Downside Annual Dinner took place this year on Tuesday last, the 21st inst., in the Gordon Room at the Holborn Restaurant. The Very Rev. F. A. Gasquet, D.D., 0.S.B.., occupied the chair. Among those present were the Bishop of Newport, the Right Rev. Mgr. John Vaughan, the Very Rev. H. E. Ford, Prior of Downside, the Right Rev. Abbot Snow, O.S.B., and the Revv. T. L. Almond, H. N. Birt, V. Corney, Wilfrid Corney, Gilbert Dolan, F. M. Fulton, 0. Langdale, and E. Mostyn, Sir Walter Smythe, Bart., Sir Roland Blennerhassett, Bart., Sir John Talbot Power, Bart., the Rouge Dragon, Mr. Everard Green, and Messrs. I. A. Baillon, E. J. Bellord, H. Behan, C. Berington, P. T. Blackwell, George Blount, P. J. Boland, H. Campbell, T. B. Corney, W. FitzGibbon, A. Ford, T. B. Fulton, E. Gape, J. S. Gradwell, L. Green, E. G. Hansom, E. J. Harting, W. S. Jackson, A. A. Kelly, F. B. Kindersley, A. J. Mitford, E. O’Bryen, W. S. Page, Watson Parker, F. W. Purssell, C. G. Rose, A. W. Sells, E. E. Ware, E. Willett, and E. G. Stillwell, the Hon. Secretary.
After the toasts of the Pope and the Queen had been proposed by the Chairman and duly honoured, Sir Walter Smythe, Bart., gave the toast of Alma Mater, coupled with the name of the Prior of Downside.
In reply the Prior spoke of the very satisfactory condition of the school and of the great progress it was making in its work, and of its many recent successes. Of “Old Gregorians” they had also reason to be proud ; they were not a very large body numerically, but still they got through a good deal of work. There was every reason to be proud of the work accomplished at the house in Ormond-street, though that was only in its inception. Then again at Cambridge University Father Butler had greatly distinguished himself, and his work there was so appreciated by the authorities that it alone was considered sufficient reason to confer a degree of distinction upon him without further examinations. Father Kuypers had also distinguished himself there, and had been awarded the prize for Hebrew. Then at Westminster, where was now being raised the new Cathedral, they were to build up a new house and there carry on the great work of the Order. His earnest wish was that they might all live to see these great works accomplished.
Mr. George Blount then gave the toast of ” The Visitors “ coupled with the name of the Bishop of Newport who, in reply, said that although he was not an “Old Gregorian” yet he was a very old friend of Downside, and some of his dearest memories were connected with that place, and it was his greatest pride and satisfaction to hear of successful work achieved by “Old Gregorians” whether as Churchmen or as laymen. They were all proud of the work being carried out at Great Ormond-street, at Cambridge University and elsewhere, but their thoughts were mostly turned to Downside itself, the parent stem. There was a great fight before Catholics in these days in the matter of education, and the clergy looked to the laity for assistance. The laity of St. Gregory’s were the crutches which upheld the ancient walls of Downside, and every member present would remember his association with and his duty towards that place.
The Right Rev. Mgr. Vaughan then proposed the toast of “The Chairman” He said it was a special privilege to propose this toast. His memory went back with pleasure to the old days in the study and in the playground when both the Chairman and himself were at Downside together. Father Gasquet had distinguished himself greatly. His name was known not to old Downside boys only but to all Catholics in England. He had heard him praised on all sides. His books were of the utmost importance to their non-Catholic brethren. He was an example for them all to follow. He therefore now asked those present to drink the health of the chairman and to wish him health and many years of life in which he might continue his labours.
Father Gasquet in reply said it was a pleasure to know his work was appreciated. Anything he had done had been done for the sake of Alma Mater.
The proceedings closed with a vote of thanks to the Hon. Secretary. During the evening selections were given by handbell ringers and glee singers. [which sounds grim beyond belief]
The above text was found on p.27, 25th June 1898 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .