Monday, 28 March 2011

Still time for Archbishop Nichols to concede gracefully?

As the Cardinal Vaughan fight to retain the Catholic ethos and nature of the school rumbles on, even more big guns have signed up in support.
H/T Damian Thompson.

Lord Alton, joining the fight for the Vaughan
 The latest additions to the impressive list of patrons are Lord Alton of Liverpool, an ex teacher and a noted anti abortion campaigner and Dr Ralph Townsend, Headmaster of Winchester College and a leading Catholic.

Now is surely the time for the Archbishop to withdraw and face up to the fact that, even if Westminster Diocese wins the legal battle, the moral battle will have been won by the Vaughan Parents and Teachers. Fight the battles that you can win is a good maxim, never more appropriate than at this time.

Archbishop Nichols would not be diminished by a withdrawal; Catholics throughout England and Wales, would, I believe, give him credit for taking it on the chin.

Here is a full biographical list of those who are sticking up for the Catholic faith on the side of Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School - at present, one of the best in the UK.....
 The Patrons of the Vaughan Parents' Action Group are:
He qualified as a teacher in 1972, working in socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods, teaching immigrant children and later children with special needs.  While still a student, aged 21, he was elected to Liverpool City Council and became its Housing Chairman and Deputy Leader.
Elected in 1979 to the House of Commons for a Liverpool constituency, as a Liberal, becoming the youngest member and achieving a record political swing.
He was his Party’s spokesman on Home Affairs, Northern Ireland, Overseas Development and the Environment, and served as Chief Whip, Chairman of the Party’s Policy Committee and President of the National League of Young Liberals.
In 1997 he stood down from the House of Commons, and from party politics, and was nominated by the Prime Minister, Sir John Major, to the House of Lords, where he sits as an Independent Life Peer, speaking regularly on human rights and religious liberty issues. 
Among the international awards he has received are the Michael Bell Memorial Award for Initiatives for Life, the Korean Mystery of Life Award, and the Advocates International Award for human rights work.  In 2005 he was created a Knight Commander of the Military Order of Constantine and St. George in recognition of his work for inter-faith and ecumenical dialogue. In 2008 Pope Benedict XVI created him a Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory in recognition of his work for human rights and religious liberty.
Professor David Crystal is one of the world's leading experts on language and linguistics. Formerly Professor of Linguistics at Reading University, he is now Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, and President of the National Literacy Association. He was educated at St Mary's College, Crosby and University College, London. He has written more than 40 books including The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, The St John Gospel and Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language, and numerous articles on the language of liturgy.
Professor Felipe Fernandez-Armesto joined the history department of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana in 2009. This is one of the leading Catholic universities in the USA and is one of the oldest, having been founded by the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1844. Professor Fernandez-Armesto teaches at its London Centre. Previously he occupied chairs at Tufts University and London University (Queen Mary's College) and before that was an Oxford don. He has had visiting appointments at many universities and research institutes in Europe and the Americas, and has honorary doctorates from La Trobe University and the Universidad de los Andes. His latest book 1492: The Year Our World Began has just been issued in paperback.
Mrs Fordyce is a former Chairman of the Governing Body of Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. She is an author of a chapter on St Margaret Ward in English Catholic Heroines and is a former Wimbledon doubles finalist.
Professor Luke Gormally is the former Director and Senior Research Fellow of the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics, described by Bishop Anthony Fisher O.P. as "not just the premier Christian bioethics institute in Britain but one of the finest in the world, Christian or secular". It was recently renamed the Anscombe Bioethics Centre after the famous philosopher and Catholic convert, Professor Elizabeth Anscombe (Professor Gormally's late mother-in-law). From 2001-06 Professor Gormally was also Research Professor at Ave Maria School of Law, Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life and a Knight of the Order of St Gregory the Great.
Mr Gormally is the highly respected former Headmaster of Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. The Secretary of State for Education, the Right Honourable Michael Gove MP, recently described Mr Gormally as being one "of the most conspicuously inspiring leaders in the field" of Catholic education.
Lord Grantley brings a wealth of campaigning experience to the VPAG. He is a former councillor for the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, and was a member of the House of Lords from 1995-99. He is a Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and a Director of the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth. Born in 1956 and educated at Ampleforth and Oxford, Lord Grantley spent most of his professional life as a banker, retiring in 2005. He was a patron of Save Sloane Square, which in 2007 won an historic victory to prevent the Council from turning the square into a crossroads. Lord Grantley comes to us not as a parent or indeed with any involvement in the School, but as a supporter of Catholic causes who believes that the VPAG’s campaign is crucial to the future of Catholic education in England and Wales.
Born in Staffordshire in 1928, Paul Johnson was editor of the New Statesman in the 1960s and has written around 50 books including A History of Christianity (Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1976), A History of the Jews (Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1987), Pope John Paul II and the Catholic Restoration (St Martin's Press 1982), The Papacy (Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1997). Mr Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush in 2006. Three of his ten grandchildren have been or are pupils at Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School.
Edward Leigh was born in 1950. He was educated at St. Philips School, London, the Oratory School, Berkshire, the French Lycee in London. He studied History at Durham University and was president of the Union Society. He is the younger son of Sir Neville Leigh K.C.V.O., former clerk to the Privy Council. He is married with three daughters and three sons. Mr Leigh is a barrister and a member of the Inner Temple, practising for Goldsmiths Chambers in arbitration and criminal law. Mr Leigh was a member of the Richmond Borough Council and then the greater London Council from 1974 until 1981. He was elected as a Member of Parliament for Gainsborough & Horncastle in the July 1983 General Election. In May 1997 he was elected Member of Parliament for the new Seat of Gainsborough, with a majority of 6,826. This rose to 8,071 in 2001. In 2005 his majority remained almost unchanged, at 8,003. In the most recent General Election of 2010 Edward's majority increased to 10,559. He was a member of the Social Security Select Committee and Joint Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. Between 2001 and 2010 he was Chairman of the influential Public Accounts Committee - a role he relinquished after serving the maximum term. Mr Leigh's website can be found here
Lord Lexden is the title taken by Alistair Cooke, who was appointed a Conservative working peer in November 2010. He is a political historian who spent most of his career in the central organisation of the Conservative Party. A graduate of, Cambridge, he taught and researched modern British and Irish history at Queen's University, Belfast, before becoming political adviser to Airey Neave, Conservative Spokesman on Northern Ireland (1977- 1979). He was Assistant and then Deputy, Director of the Conservative Research Department from 1983 - 1987and Director of the Conservative Political Centre, the Party's educational wing from 1988-1997. He was General Secretary of the Independent Schools Council from 1997-2004 and consultant to the Conservative Research Department from 2004-2010. He has been the Conservative Party's official historian since 2009. His many other roles include President of the Northern Ireland Schools' Debating Competition. Lord Lexden's letters, usually on historical subjects, appear frequently in the national press. He has just had his 100th letter published in The Times and he holds what the Daily Telegraph believes to be the record for one person of 160 letters from one person published in that newspaper!
Colin Mawby is a distinguished English composer, organist and choral conductor.
He attended Westminster Cathedral Choir School, where he acted as assistant to George Malcolm at the organ from the age of 12. He subsequently studied at the Royal  College of Music and became Master of the Music at Westminster Cathedral in 1961.  In 1976 he moved to Dublin to become choral director at  Radio Telefis Eireann and was later artistic director of the  National Chamber Choir of Ireland.  He founded the  RTE Philharmonic Choir in 1985.    He retired in 2001.
Colin Mawby is a prolific composer of music for the English Catholic liturgy, including 30 Masses; among his best known compositions are an Ave Verum Corpus for choir and a setting of Psalm 23 which won fame in the recording by Charlotte Church.
He has a long association with Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School; he composed a piece for the ordination of former Headmaster Fr. Anthony Pellegrini, and the Schola has sung many of his compositions around the world, including his Exsultate Deo which features on a Schola CD recording.
Charles Moore is a journalist and author. He was born in 1956 and educated at Eton, and Trinity College, Cambridge where he read History. He is a convert to Catholicism. He has been editor of The Spectator (1984-90), the Sunday Telegraph (1992-95) and The Daily Telegraph (1995-2003). He resigned from the last post to spend more time writing Margaret Thatcher's authorised biography, which will be published after her death. As well as writing the biography, he currently writes weeky columns in both The Daily Telegraph and The Specator and is Consulting Editor of the Telegraph Group. He is the chairman of the think tank, Policy Exchange and of the Rectory Society. He was a member of the Council of Benenden School from 2000-20009. Publications (with A.N. Wilson and G. Stamp): The Church in Crisis, 1986; co-editor: of A Tory Seer: the selected journalism of T.E. Utley, 1989.
Judith Mossman is Professor of Classics at the University of Nottingham, and was formerly a Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin. She was educated at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Woldingham, and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and was a governor of Woldingham School from 1990-93. She is the author of two books and a number of edited volumes and articles on Euripides and Plutarch, and frequently gives talks on classical subjects to schools and summer schools. From 2005-9 she was Chair of the Joint Association of Classical Teachers (JACT) Classical Civilisation Committee.
Cristina Odone is an Italian-American Catholic author, journalist and broadcaster. Born in 1960 and educated at various schools and Oxford University, she was editor of the Catholic Herald from 1992-1996, deputy editor of The New Statesman from 1998-2004, and for six years, wrote a column for The Observer. She has written for The Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph and The Spectator. She was a regular contributor to Thought for the Day from 1995-2003, and in 2005, made a Dispatches programme for Channel 4 on "Women Bishops". She broadcasts widely, including for Question Time, the Today programme, Channel 4 News, Woman's Hour and the Jeremy Vine show and she has a regular blog at The Daily Telegraph. She is a research fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies, for whom she has written a number of pamphlets, including one on faith schools, In Bad Faith (2008) and Assisted suicide: how the chattering classes got it wrong (2010). She has also written four novels.
Professor Thomas Pink is Professor of Philosophy at King's College, London. After reading history and philosophy at Cambridge, where he obtained a PhD, and working for four years in London and New York for a City merchant bank, he returned to philosophy in 1990 as a Research Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge. He then lectured at Sheffield University prior to moving to King's in 1996. He is the author of Free Will: A Very Short Introduction, and other works, and an editor of London Studies in the History of Philosophy.
Piers Paul Read is a novelist and playwright, born in 1941, was educated at Ampleforth College and St John's College, Cambridge. He was Artist in Residence at the Ford Foundation in Berlin (1963-4), Harkness Fellow, Commonwealth Fund, New York (1967-8), a member of the Council of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (1971-5), a member of the Literature Panel at the Arts Council, (1975-7), and Adjunct Professor of Writing, Columbia University, New York (1980). From 1992-7 he was Chairman of the Catholic Writers' Guild. Many of his books have a powerful Catholic theme. His novels and non-fiction books have won a number of awards and several have been filmed for cinema and television. He has lived in London for many years and his two sons attended Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. Those who know something of the history of the School may remember the events in the mid 1980s when the Diocese made appointments to the Governing Body and then tried to remove the School's sixth form. Piers Paul Read was one of the leading members of the Vaughan Parents' Action Group formed at that time to fight to keep the sixth form. The present VPAG draw much comfort and hope from the fact that Piers Paul Read and his fellow parents and friends won that fight.
Dr John Martin Robinson is a writer and one of Britain's foremost architectural historians. He was educated at the Benedictine school of Fort Augustus and at Oriel College, Oxford where he obtained a D.Phil. He is the biographer of Cardinal Consalvi (the Vatican's representative at the Congress of Vienna) and author of The Dukes of Norfolk: A Quincentennial History, Treasures of the English Churches and of the official guide books to Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. He is Maltravers Herald Extraordinary, one of Her Majesty's Officers of Arms, and Librarian to the Duke of Norfolk. He is Vice-Chairman of the Georgian Group and a trustee of the Lakelands Arts Trust. He serves on the architectural advisory committee of some of our most important Catholic churches.
Anthony Speaight is a senior barrister and a Bencher of the Middle Temple. He is a commercial practitioner specialising in technology and construction law. He was educated at St Benedict's School, Ealing and Lincoln College, Oxford. He has served as a member of the Bar Council, and as Chairman of the Access to the Bar Committee and of the editorial board of Counsel, the journal of the Bar of England and Wales. He is author of The Law of Defective Premises and editor of the Architect's Legal Handbook. He is a Freeman of the City of London and has received the Robert Schuman silver medal from the FVS Foundation of Germany.
Dr Ralph Townsend is the Headmaster of Winchester College. A Catholic, he was educated in Australia and at Keble College, Oxford. In his early career at Oxford, where he taught in the Theology Faculty, he was Senior Scholar at Keble, Dean of Degrees at Lincoln College and Warden of St Gregory's House. He became successively Head of English at Eton, Headmaster of Sydney Grammar School and Headmaster of Oundle. He has written books on Christian spirituality and numerous articles for the Dictionnaire de Spiritualite, the reference book published under the responsibility of the Jesuits. He is an Adviser to the National College of Music in London and a Trustee of the United Church Schools Trust.

Professor Mark Watson-Gandy is a barrister specialising in insolvency and company law. He is a Visiting Professor at the University of Westminster and a Visiting Lecturer at Cass Business School (City University). Dual qualified as an accountant, he is the author of "Watson-Gandy on Accountants" and other works, and is Head of Professional Standards for the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers. He is a Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George, and in 2008 was made a Knight of the Order of St Gregory the Great by His Holiness Pope Benedict in recognition of "his work as a barrister and law professor for the Catholic Church".


  1. Wow! I think time to retire gracefully Archbishop Nicholls.Pax tecum. Thanks Richard for this information. By the way may I ask why you call your blogsite 'Linen on the Hedgerow'? Just curious, it's an intriguing name.Thanks.

  2. Umblepie - thanks for your comment. During Reformation times when a Mass was going to be celebrated in secret at a local house, they would dry the washing on the hedgerow as a signal to all to come to Mass that evening.

  3. Thanks Richard. Very interesting, I learn something new every day.