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12. THE CHURCH ASSEMBLY


12 Deans Yard

The Representative Church Council, made up of the two Convocations and the two Houses of Laymen, had met together in Church House for the first time in July 1904. In February 1919, they sat together in the cramped Hoare Memorial Hall to settle the proposed constitution of a National Assembly for the Church of England and a scheme for the representation of the laity.

Following the Enabling Act that same year, the new Assembly held its first session in the Great Hall on 30 June 1920 and, at the Corporation's annual general meeting, the Council reported:

The Church House is likely to be the centre from which the activities of the National Assembly and its co-related organisations, such, for instance, as the Central Board of Finance, will be directed. In this connection new demands for accommodation will probably arise.

The Corporation provided offices for the Church Assembly (as it was more familiarly known) in 12 Dean's Yard, and the following year, to bring the Assembly into closer touch with the Church House, the Secretary of the Central Board of Finance, Prebendary Frank Partridge (later Archdeacon of Oakham and Bishop of Portsmouth), was also appointed Secretary of the Corporation.

At the annual general meeting in 1921 it was proposed that the Site and Works Committee be reconstituted to review the whole question of the future of the Church House buildings,which were by then thought by many to be unworthy of their noble use. 'The Council', complained a correspondent to The Times, 'has shown little energy or initiative in completing the original plans. Even without rebuilding, much can be done immediately by adopting such measures as the establishment of a restaurant, the provision of a comfortable reading room, the re-organisation of the Library, and adequate spring cleaning.'

Canon Partridge replied that the correspondent 'has done a little less than justice to those Churchmen who originated the idea of a business house for the Church of England, and to their successors on the Council, who, in the face of great and persistent opposition in many quarters, have so successfully paved the way for future developments. He was perhaps not familiar with the difficulties in developing the site because of the existence of leases which are only beginning to fall in, a process which cannot be completed for some time.'

From the Book "The Church House 1888-1988 - A Moment in the Life of the Church"
Published by the Corporation of the Church House in their Centenary Year