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23. THE POST-WAR CORPORATION

The Spring 1946 session of the Assembly was held at the Institute of Civil Engineers in Great George Street, and during this meeting Dr Fisher (Archbishop 1945-1961) announced that the Halls and some of the office space would be handed back to the Corporation in May 'but for the rest, the Church will have to wait at least another seven years'. The last United Nations office closed its doors at the end of 1946 but, as the Archbishop had explained, the House was still required by the Government to relieve the capital's chronic shortage of office accommodation and was used as the temporary home of the new Colonial Office.

Throughout the summer of 1946 workmen with pneumatic drills worked at demolishing the blast wall erected around the entrance to the House and at the other defence works, allowing the Corporation to move back into the building from its emergency home at 5a Dean's Yard on 1 October.

The Presentation of the Freedom of the City of Westminster to Winston Churchill 7 May 1946, in the Hoare Memorial Hall, by Richard Eurich OBE RA Mr Churchill, the first honorary freeman, accepts a casket containing the Scroll of the Freedom from the Mayor Mr E H Keeling
The Presentation of the Freedom of the City of Westminster to Winston Churchill, 7 May 1946,
in the Hoare Memorial Hall, by Richard Eurich OBE RA.
Mr Churchill, the first honorary freeman, accepts a casket containing the Scroll
of the Freedom from the Mayor, Mr E H Keeling.

When the building was requisitioned by the Government, the partly developed Library on the second and third floors had been closed down. In 1947 it was decided to make an attempt to reopen the Library, so that it would be usable and comfortable for members of the Lambeth Conference meeting a year later. There was insufficient storage space for the Church House collection and the only categories of books to be kept were those on subjects which could be used by members of the Corporation and the Church Assembly for research into the Government of the Church. The Rev. Dr A. J. Macdonald, famous for his knowledge of libraries, accepted the office of Honorary Librarian, and Miss Irene Drake was appointed as his assistant.

It was then decided that, as at this time books of all kinds were scarce and students everywhere were without books, the librarians from the senior universities and other institutions should be invited to Church House to select books for their libraries. They duly came and at the same time gave valuable advice for the Church House Library. The Julian Collection of hymn books was offered to, and accepted by, the British Museum, and in 1949 the collection of photographs of Bishops in the Anglican Communion was given to the National Portrait Gallery.

Unlike the Library, the Church House Club did not reopen its doors after the War, and at the Council meeting held in November 1946 it was formally decided that the scheme should be abandoned. Of the 384 members, 39 asked for their membership fee to be returned, 83 transferred their membership to that of the Corporation, and 37 had died. The situation was reviewed in 1949 when the House and Accounts Committee reported that 'to reopen the Club would entail the Corporation in financial embarrassment', and it subsequently proved far more profitable to let the accommodation to the Colonial Office.

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