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13. IMPROVEMENTS

On the eve of the first meeting of the reconstituted Site and Works Committee, the same correspondent to The Times outlined some of the options available to the Council:

Some Churchmen would like the Church of England to sell the Church House and build elsewhere. Whether anyone would be prepared to pay a sufficient price, or whether any more suitable site close to Westminster can be found, are questions to be explored by the Committee. Others suggest that the Great Hall should be divided into two parts by the introduction of a floor at the present gallery level, thus providing extra accommodation and offices. The supporters of the National Assembly would like to see the Hoare Memorial Block set apart for the convenience of the members and new reading, writing and smoking rooms provided. It is also proposed that a Church House Club should be established, for it is thought that there are a number of Churchmen in Whitehall and Victoria-street who would be glad to belong to such a club, if there was a restaurant on the premises and some kind of accommodation. There are also proposals for completing the buildings on the original plans, but these are out of date and probably the whole subject must be considered anew.

The Committee presented its report to the Council in March 1922. Its recommendations were, among others, that:

Rooms on the ground floor of the West Block, opposite the Library, should be used for reading, writing and smoking rooms for the National Assembly, the cost of which to be partly paid for by them and accommodation in the basement of the West Block to be provided for a Restaurant, one room of which should be for the use of Church House users only.

The Restaurant opened its doors to the public on 27 November 1922, and thereafter the West Block was, according to the popular newspaper Truth, 1 July 1936, 'perpetually filled with an odour of cooking'.

The external appearance of the properties was also in need of some improvement. Stables and a builder's yard in Tufton Street backed on to the inner courtyard designed to resemble a Tudor quadrangle, across which, upon a mound of earth, ran a covered passage connecting 10 Dean's Yard to the Great Hall Block. The aspect was somewhat improved by the planting out of a large herbaceous border opposite the windows of the Archbishop's room and carried round part of the square, which already contained a fig tree.

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