27 June 2012

Join Us – and be part of the change’

The USPG conference comes to an end at lunchtime today (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Patrick Comerford

The annual conference of USPG, which has been taking place in the High Leigh Conference Centre in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, comes to a close today [Wednesday 27 June 2012].

We began with Morning Prayer at 7.45, using a new office from the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Our final session this morning is “Join Us – and be part of the change.” We heard from three supporters of USPG of their involvement with the society over the decades, and the changes they have seen, and we heard of their experiences in Malawi, South Africa, Egypt and Hong Kong,

An episcopal reminder ... a window in the old house at the High Leigh Conference Centre in Hoddesdon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

This morning , we also received greetings and blessings from Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, who is the President of USPG, who was supportive of the rebranding of USPG as Us.

In the absence of the Right Revd Michael Burrows, Bishop of Cashel and Ossory, chair of USPG Ireland and a trustee of USPG, I have been asked to celebrate the Closing Eucharist at mid-day, using the rite in the Church of Ireland Book of Common Prayer.

Given the proposed rebranding of USPG, I suppose this may the last Eucharist at a USPG conference per se.

Next year’s conference will be for the newly-named and newly-branded “Us.”

The High Leigh Sunken Well and Donkey Track, dating from the mid 19th century (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

In an earlier posting this morning, I wrote about how there are at least three listed buildings along Lord Street, leading to the High Leigh Conference Centre. I described the Quaker Meeting House, at the east end of Lord Street, and the King William IV Public House at the end west end of Lord Street, but said I had failed to find the High Leigh Sunken Well and Donkey Track, which is a listed building.
But in an early morning walk down to the lake this morning, I found the sunken well and the donkey track in the grounds of High Leigh.

The High Leigh Sunken Well and Donkey Track date from the mid 19th century, includes a sunken circular pen for donkeys to draw water from well, approached by serpentine grotto passage, built of yellow stock brick and flint. The pen is about 6 metres in diameter and 2 metres deep. It has a low circular timber roof on later red brick supports. There is a tunnel on the west side. The grotto entrance on the south side has walls and an arch of imitation rock made of yellow stock brick and cement.

Before my flight back to Dublin, I plan to spend the afternoon in Cambridge, catching up with some old friends and visiting some places with the Fitzwilliam name – including “Fitzbillies” near Pembroke College, the Fitzwiliam Museum and Fitzwilliam College – for photographs and to think about some ideas I have for an essay on the Fitzwilliam family in Dublin and Co Wicklow, and these peculiar Irish links with Cambridge.

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