BY DAVID V BARRETT
CHRIS Patten, European Commissioner for External Relations, and former Conservative cabinet minister, is to deliver the 2005 Tyburn Lecture.
The high profile annual lecture was inaugurated four years ago by the Tyburn Nuns, at their central London convent, to provide a platform for national figures to speak on their choice of a contemporary topic. Past speakers include Charles Moore, then Editor of the Daily Telegraph; author and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth; Cherie Booth, QC; and George Weigel, the leading commentator on the Catholic Church.
Mother Xavier Monagle, Mother General at Tyburn Convent, said: “We are honoured that Mr Patten has agreed to deliver next year’s lecture. We know that our invited audience will appreciate his lecture as he has added deep experience of the international scene to his vast national knowledge and experience in politics gathered from important government posts he held in Great Britain.” Mr Patten, who was the last Governor of Hong Kong from 1992 to 1997, and who chaired the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland set up under the Good Friday Peace Agreement, said: “It was with great pleasure that I accepted Tyburn’s invitation to deliver next year’s lecture. It is a great privilege to speak at such a spot, steeped in the history of England, going back some 500 years”.
Tyburn Convent, near Marble Arch in London, is the home of the Tyburn Nuns, the Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Montmartre, Order of St Benedict. They pray night and day before the Blessed Sacrament to honour the 105 Catholic martyrs who suffered and died for their faith on the scaffold of Tyburn Tree between 1535 and 1681. They also pray continuously for the needs of all mankind, especially the people of Great Britain.
The crypt houses a replica of the triangular gallows from Tyburn Field. It also contains some of the martyrs’ bones, bloodstained clothing and hair. The convent’s campaign to raise £400,000 to pay for the updating of lifts and ramps to the crypt for disabled visitors has received a major publicity boost from eminent historian Dr David Starkey. Under new revisions to the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act, which will come into force on October 1, all buildings that provide “goods, facilities or services” to the public must have the same “access, use and exit” for the disabled as for the able-bodied. Theoretically, the crypt could be closed if the convent does not comply with the law. West minster City Council has refused the convent a grant “The site is very important from a historical perspective and from a Roman Catholic point of view,” said Dr Starkey. “It is the site on which most of the English martyrs met their horrible fate. It was the great site of executions from the late Middle Ages to the 18th century and, of course, it was the end of so many great names in Catholic history.” These included St Edmund Campion, the Jesuit and Oxford academic.
John Gummer: Page 9