"Top MEADOW", THE Beaconsfield home of Catholic journalist and author GK Chesterton, could become an institute for the study and propagation of his ideas, if an international appeal launched this week is successful.
Chesterton fans in the UK, Canada and North America where his work is best known are being asked to donate up to £500,000 to purchase the rambling, Tudor-style house where he wrote some of his most influential works and conceived the popular fictional detective character Fr Brown.
If the money is raised, the house whose facilities already include a library and theatre could become a permanent memorial to the writer, who died in 1936.
There are also plans to relocate the headquarters of the Chesterton Study Centre, an international institute for the study of religion, society and culture based on his ideas.
The appeal's UK coordinator, Chris Whitehouse, said he was sure Chesterton's "contribution to Catholicism, to Christian thinking and to literature" would ensure a welcome response to the appeal.
Eminent Catholics such as the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Longford and Lord ReesMogg have already given the project their backing, and it is hoped that Chesterton scholars and aficionados will consider housing their collections permanently at the institute.
Chesterton was among most famous of literary Catholic converts in the early part of the century. A mass of essays, satirical poems and biographies many written in the study at Top Meadow secured his international reputation.
Lighter works such as the Fr Brown detective stories, and his oft-quoted "paradoxes" gained him a wider public.
The centre hopes to fund its activities by organising retreats, seminars and conferences including "detective weekends" for Fr Brown devotees.