DO THE GUARDIANS DO?
(reprinted from Walsingham Review Number
72 : December 1980)
Shrine is vested in twenty Guardians who also form the Walsingham
College Trust Association, a charitable trust company. They act
in accordance with the Constitution of the College of Guardians
and the Articles of Association of the Trust Company. They are
concerned with all aspects of the Shrine's work. they meet in
May when the Bursar presents accounts previously approved by the
Directors (elected from among the Guardians) and in October. At
both meetings the Adminstrator (appointed by the Guardians for
the day-to-day running of the whole work of the Shrine in Walsingham)
gives a report on the past six months. A priest Guardian (at present
Father Gill) is elected as Master, to be their executive head,
and he maintains close relations with the Shrine and is frequently
there for consultation with the Adminstrator and others. Another
Guardian (at present Father Charles Smith) is elected as Registrar
to act as his deputy at need. Broadly, Guardians are elected by
a carefully designed voting system mainly on their particular
ability to be of service to the Shrine, partly to represent a
particular area, and always on having shown a devotion to the
Shrine and its work. In addition, a small number of Honorary Guardians
are chosen, without voting powers, (including several bishops)
as being sympathetic to the Shrine and able to be useful counsellors.
ARE THE GUARDIANS?
(reprinted from Walsingham Review Number 139 : Advent 2006)
pray for them every day at Shrine Prayers. We see them apparelled
in splendid blue velvet guarding the image of Our Lady at the National
Pilgrimage and other major events. We read news of their meetings
in this journal. But who are the Guardians? What do they actually
1931, when he rebuilt the Holy House, Fr Patten realised that he
needed a new, legal structure to oversee the work of the Shrine
that he had restored now that it owned lands and property. So he
set up a Charitable Company called the Walsingham College Trust
Association Ltd (or WCTA Ltd as it may be better known to you).
At the same time he formed a College of Guardians to own the new
structure is largely unchanged today. Legally the Guardians are
the Shareholders of WCTA Ltd who appoint from amongst their number
eight to serve as Directors of the Company. ln effect they are the
governing body of the Shrine setting policy which is implemented
by the Priest Administrator and his staff.
before anyone had ever heard of `Collaborative Ministry' the College
of Guardians brought together the skills and talents of clergy
and laypeople. Today, from a College of twenty, eleven are ordained
and the rest Lay Guardians. Until 2005 there was a rule that Priest
Guardians must be unmarried but that was abolished last year, which
enabled the Principal of Pusey House, Fr Jonathan Baker, to be elected
as the first married Priest Guardian**. The business of the College
is overseen by the Master of the Guardians, Canon Martin Warner.
the College of Guardians represents a broad cross-section of the
pilgrimage constituency and brings together a remarkable breadth
of knowledge and experience. There are parish priests, a cathedral
canon, a religious and a bishop. We have the benefits of a city
banker, the chief executive of an opera company, a teacher, a psycho-analyst
and a cluster of lawyers. We can also draw on the experience of
our non-voting honorary and emeritus Guardians.
all, though, the College of Guardians is a praying community, one
which takes its spiritual responsibilities to the Shrine very seriously
indeed. The twice-yearly Chapter Meetings are pilgrimages which
centre on the Chapter Mass. Prayer is at the heart of their common
life, just as it is at the heart of the Shrine itself.
archivist's note: although this was the theory, one of the original
Guardians and two later entrants were in fact married, but as Fr Patten
wanted to enlist them, this was glossed over at the time (Fr Elton
Lury, Fr Carrick Deakin and Fr Claude Powell): see right hand panel
College of Guardians was formed in 1931
although it did not adopt a formal
Constitution until 1932.
Our Lady's Mirror Autumn Number 1931
Sanctuary has been placed in charge of Trustees and a body of guardians,
which is to number, when the ranks are complete, twenty-four men
- twelve of each order, lay and cleric. After the trustees had accepted
the invitation to act, the present guardians were nominated by them
all, and others will be added to the number upon election of the
whole body. At present they consist of [names of those who are also
Trustees in bold]:
Duke of Argyll
Abbot of Nashdom
Fr A H Baverstock
Fr Hope Patten
Eric McDyles [Maclagan]
first page of the first Minute Book was started on 11 February 1932:
this indicates that they were preparing a Constitution. By this time Major
Arthur Bowker had been added to their number, making eighteen 'original'
Guardians, half priest members and half lay. This ratio was soon changed
to 11 priest, 7 lay. The total number was raised to twenty in 1953 (12
priest, 8 lay). It never went to the 24 originally envisaged in Fr Patten's
1931 article above.
Fr Patten's time the Guardians were also sometimes referred to as Fellows.
last survivor of the 'original' Guardians was Sir John Best-Shaw, who
died in 1984.The last new Guardian instituted by Fr Patten was Fr Philip
Husbands in 1957.
Fynes-Clinton paid for the College to have an official grant
of arms in 1945.
1946 it was decided to create Honorary and Emeritus Guardians when appropriate.
The idea of Guardians Emeriti was prompted by Major Bowker's repeated
requests to resign owing to age, and Fr Reggie Kingdon's unwillingness
to resign even though he was too infirm to attend.
first Honorary Guardians in 1946 were Canon
Vivan Petersen and Dr Thomas
Whittemore (both from USA); at the same time Prince
Vladimir Galitzine was appointed as an Honorary Guardian, although
an Orthodox: this was before the later provision for Honorary Ecumenical
Guardians. The Orthodox Archbishop
Nestor had also been elected but declined to take office.
insignia evolved slowly over the years. The first two
group photographs were taken in full regalia, fifty-one years
apart, and a third five years later.
new Guardian has been required to sign the Guardians'
or her photograph is added to the Guardians'
Gallery in the College, where hang the photographs of most of the
full Guardians, and some of their Honorary colleagues: the collection
was started in 1950.
Guardian's name is added to the appropriate Stall in the Shrine Church,
on either side of the chancel. The
twenty stalls were added at different times according to funds available.
Behind each seat the holders' names are listed, with dates, and in some
cases the individuals' coats of arms were painted (by Enid Chadwick).
The names on each side are listed at
Holy House built;
formation of College of Guardians
Guardians' first Minute Book;
first Chapter meeting;
Master's Chain given
Walsingham College Trust Association Ltd founded
Shrine Church opened
first Installation ceremony and first wearing of mantles
official grant of coat of arms
Honorary and Emeritus Guardians created
Guardians' stars created
Guardians' Gallery of photographs in College started
maximum number of Guardians raised from eighteem to twenty
first formal group photograph taken
first Lady Guardian elected
(Mrs Barbara Marlow); on her retirement in 2012 she became the first who could be described as a Guardian Emerita
first married priest of recent times elected: in theory all had been
unmarried until then but in the early years Fr Patten had turned a blind
eye to three married priests whom he wanted to include in the College,
but if any priest married subsequently to his becoming a Guardian he
ipso facto ceased from membership (this situation never arose);
in 1940 Chapter resolved that married priests could be proposed as Guardians
but they were not expected to get further than that stage; in 1955 Chapter
regarded this 1940 resolution as "not a happy or indeed an honest"
one and it was rescinded; in 1956 Chapter had another long anguished
discussion on the issue and voted 11-4 in favour of allowing married
priests to be elected, although this did not happen until Fr Baker's
election in 2005
another formal group photograph taken
informal group photograph taken after the episcopal ordination of Bishop Martin Warner
another formal group photograph taken