Public subscriptions allowed just two of the leasehold houses on the site to be purchased outright: nos. 10 and 11 Dean’s Yard. These were to be the ‘temporary’ offices of the Corporation for the next fifty years.
Two rooms on the first floor were knocked into one to form a large meeting-room, with committee rooms and offices above. The basement was fitted with lockers for the use of Secretaries of Church Societies, who were charged ten pounds per year for the use of a letter-box, locker and the room set aside for correspondence.
Two committee rooms were already being used by the Lambeth Conference of Bishops of the Anglican Communion when, on 21 July 1888, the official inauguration of the House took place on the occasion of the first annual general meeting of the Corporation. This was held in a large tent erected on the grass in the centre of Dean’s Yard. The Church Times, 27 July 1888, fully described the event:
Previous to the meeting most of those present attended the usual afternoon service in Westminster Abbey, an anthem appropriate to the occasion having been specially composed by Dr Bridge. The words, chosen by the precentor, the Rev. S. Flood Jones, are taken from Nehemiah ii 20, and Psalm cxxvii.1, and cxxiv.8:-
"The God of Heaven, He will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build. Except the Lord build the house, their labour is but lost that build it. Our help standeth in the name of the Lord, who hath made heaven and earth."
The Archbishop of Canterbury made the formal declaration amid applause. He then proceeded to say that. . . for a fortnight past the House had been in active occupation; from morning till night there had been committees held within that portion of the building that had already been taken in hand, and when it was remembered that those committees were mainly formed of Bishops from all parts of the world, it could be seen that the Church House had not been begun too soon.
Well the Church could now sing the old song of 'Dulce Domum'. We had been in search of a 'domus' for a long while, and at last had found one. A line of the time-honoured song would bring him to his next point.-
Venit hora absque mora,
- which upon that occasion he begged to construe, "The hour is come for you, not to lay your books aside, but to deposit them" - in the Church House!
The Archbishop, reported the Church Times, closed his address by explaining that 'the Corporation had no liabilities; it had an income already of about £1,000 a year, and it was now in possession of its property, for on the previous evening he had signed the document which informed the Ecclesiastical Commissioners that the site would be purchased by the Corporation.'