The Founding of Westminster Cathedral, 1883.

Westminster cathedral

This is included for a few reasons, but two of them are family related. Herman Lescher, the auditor of the Westminster Land Company is a 1st cousin, four times removed, as is his brother Frank. Frank Harwood Lescher’s wife Mary is also a 1st cousin, in her case three times removed. It’s also here because Alfred Purssell was a founder-donor to the cathedral with his name in the loggia, if I remember rightly.


The Westminster Land Company and The New Cathedral 1883.

We have already given our readers full information on the formation of the new company, as far as it concerned the site for the new cathedral of this diocese. Some incomplete particulars, however, having found their way into a bi-weekly paper, we feel it necessary to give the facts in greater detail :— It will be remembered that we stated that the law binds the Home Office to re-convey the site of Tothill-fields Prison to the Middlesex magistrates. This formal re-conveyance, we understand, has to be made some time within six months, and will therefore in all probability be effected shortly after Christmas. In the meantime the land was purchased from the magistrates by the Earl of Denbigh, Lord Beaumont, Sir Charles Clifford, and the Count de Torre Diaz. These four gentlemen have entered into contract with the Westminster Land Company, which is now duly formed, registered, and in working order.

The Memorandum of Association, which had to be filed at Somerset House on registration, bears the following signatures :—The Earl of Denbigh, Hon. Henry Wm. Petre, Francis Charles New, Sir Charles Clifford, Count de Torre Diaz, Herman Lescher, Alfred Blount.

The new company has now, by a draft Agreement between them and the four purchasers, taken over from the latter the prison site and the land in possession of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. In this draft Agreement, to the signatures of the four purchasers are added the names of eight of the original founders or guarantors of the deposit, the remaining two being among the purchasers. These signatories are :—

  • The Earl of Denbigh.
  • Lord Beaumont.
  • Sir Charles Clifford.
  • Count de Torre Diaz.
  • Edward Devenish Walshe, Esq.
  • The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster.
  • Lord Clifford of Chudleigh.
  • Lord Arundell of Wardour.
  • Thomas Weld Blundell, Esq., of Ince Blundell.
  • Walter Hussey Walsh, Esq.
  • Herman Lescher, Esq.
  • Alfred Blount, Esq.

The Westminster Land Company are, therefore, in equitable possession of the land of which the Middlesex magistrates have the power to dispose, and by their agreement with the purchasers and founders take over all the liabilities. The Company’s agreement with the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, whereby they take over the adjoining portion of land in his possession in exchange for a part of the prison site on the payment of the difference in money value, is in course of preparation for signature. The Company’s registered capital is £130,000, in 15,000 shares of £ 10 each. The Board of Directors and the officers of the Company have been constituted as follows :—

  • Earl of Denbigh.
  • Lord Beaumont.
  • Lord Clifford of Chudleigh.
  • Sir Charles Clifford
  • Directors
  • Hon. Henry William Petre.
  • Edward Frederick Devenish Walshe, Esq.
  • Walter Hussey Walsh, Esq.

Solicitors—Messrs. Blount, Lynch, and Petre, 4, King-street, Cheapside, E.C.

Auditor—Herman Lescher, Esq., T, Princes-street, Bank, E.C.

Surveyors—Messrs. Vigers and Co., 4, Frederick’s-place, Old Jewry, E.C.

Secretary—Francis Charles New, Esq.

Offices—T. Princes-street, Bank, E.C.

The above text was found on p.8, 6th October 1883 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher” The Tablet can be found at .

Reception at the Mansion House 1910

by London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company, bromide print, 1900s
Sir John Knill, Lord Mayor of London,about 1910. © National Portrait Gallery, London

Almost inevitably the Roper Parkingtons were there…….

The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress held a reception of Catholics at the Mansion House on Monday afternoon. Gracious, simple, and Catholic, it was a gathering of the family. The Archbishop was there and all the Bishops who had arrived for the Low Week Meeting : the Bishop of Newport, the Bishop of Birmingham, the Bishop of Nottingham, the Bishop of Salford, the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Bishop of Southwark, the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, the Bishop of Menevia, the Bishop of Galloway, and the Bishop of Amycla, whose purple with that of the Monsignori added colour to the scene. Amongst the clergy were Mgr. Canon Scott of Cambridge, Mgr. Tynan of Salford, Mgr. Canon Moyes, Mgr. Canon Howlett, Mgr. Grosch, Mgr. Brown, Vicar-General of Southwark, the Right Rev. Vicar-General of Glasgow, Provost Mackintosh, priests too numerous to name from all parts of London, North and South, Canons of the Cathedral Chapters of Westminster and Southwark, parish priests, Cathedral chaplains, priests from the provinces, members of religious orders, Jesuits, Dominicans, Augustinians, Benedictines, Franciscans, Servites, Canons of the Lateran, Vincentians, Salesians, Oblates of St. Charles, and many more. Catholic society in all its grades was represented :—the Princess Marie Louise de Bourbon, the Duchess of Seville and the Duc de Seville, Lady Mary Howard, Lady Edmund Talbot, Lady Vavasour, the Earl of Denbigh, Count Mensdorft, the Austrian Ambassador, the Count and Countess de Torre Diaz, Count O’Clery, Sir W. H. Dunn, M.P., and Miss Dunn, Sir J. and Lady Roper Parkington, Sir Francis and Lady Fleming, Lady and the Misses Dalrymple, Miss Weld Blundell, Colonel Sir Charles and Lady Euan-Smith, Sir Henry, Lady, and Miss Norbury, Sir Charles and Lady McDonogh Cuffe, Lieutenant General and Mrs. Mackesy, Mr. Justice Walton, Mr. J. G. Snead Cox, Major and Mrs. R. Meyer, Miss Anstice Baker, Mrs. Bernard Mole, Miss Streeter, Mlle. Janotha, Miss Minnie Stewart, Mrs. Leeming, Mrs. Plater, Colonel Vaughan, Mr. Roskell, Mr. Lescher, Surgeon-General Maunsell, Mr. and Mrs. John Kenyon, Chancellor and Mrs. Tristram, Dr. Counsell, Lieutenant-Colonel Wellesley, Miss Emily Hickey, and about 500 others, all representative of business, law, art, letters, and public life among the Catholics of London.

A programme of music of exceptional interest was provided in the Egyptian Hall under the direction of Mr. H. Plater. The central attractions were the singing of Madame Blanche Marchesi in Willeby’s “Crossing the Bar,” an “Ave Maria” by Mlle. Janotha, and ” Jerusalem ” from Gounod’s “Gallia.” Miss Newbery, Madame Henrietta Engelhard, and Miss Catherine Aulsebrooke, also sang with much acceptance ; Miss Nora Freeley in violin solos, Signor Manrico Bacci, Mr. Fraser Gange, and Mr. Denis O’Neil in songs also making their mark; as also did Mr. H. Plater as a whistler, and little Blanche Young, a mite of a child, in a finely executed “Good Luck Dance,” written by Mile. Janotha, and named after her mascot, ‘ Little White Heather,” which, by the way, Mlle. Janotha brought with her. The accompanist was Mr. Albert Lyne.

Egyptian Hall
Egyptian Hall, Mansion House

The reception was in every way a memorable one in the crowded year in which the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress are utilising every opportunity for doing good. An illustration was a beautiful but pathetic scene in the Egyptian Hall. While all was moving brightness in the rooms of state, at the end of the Egyptian Hall, to the accompaniment of the rare music, a number of cripple girls were giving an exhibition of exquisite work in artificial flowers, to which craft and art they had been trained by a beneficent institution, the Watercress and Flower Girls’ Mission in Cripplegate, founded in 1866, and beginning work among crippled girls in 1879. The work is educational, curative and industrial, and extends to all parts of the country, teaching crippled girls to earn their own living, and ministering weekly to 5,000 girls, women, and children. It was established by a Nonconformist minister, and is a non-Catholic institution, but charity knows no boundaries, and “God’s Poor,” of whatever creed or kind, find loving sympathy in the large Catholic heart of the City’s queen. The cripple girls and their exquisite work were made a special and fitting feature of the reception.

The above text was found on p.30, 9th April 1910 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher” The Tablet can be found at .

More detail on the flower girls mission can be found here