04 August 2023

Anne Frank’s tree is
difficult to find at
the British Library
after 25 years

The Anne Frank Tree planted at the British Library 25 years ago is now almost hidden from sight (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

I am from a generation that became engrossed in Anne Frank’s Diary just at the stage in our teenage years when we realised the importance and excitement of reading books.

Anne Frank was 13 when she was given her diary as a birthday present. I was 14 when I read her Diary from cover to cover on the beach, day after day, during a formative summer in Ballinskelligs in the Kerry Gaeltacht.

I have passed by the British Library a few times in recent weeks, walking between Euston and King’s Cross. On one of those afternoons – the sme afternoon I attended a family commemoration for my ‘cousin’, the Jewish historian Kevin Martin – I decided to look for Anne Frank's Tree, planted at the British Library 25 years ago on 12 June 1998.

I was disappointed to find that the tree itself is virtually impossible to see, lost almost entirely and half buried in a modern planting scheme that gives priority to the high brick walls surrounding each area of greenery.

Up to 10 years ago, there was a statue of Anne Frank by Doreen Kern (1999) in the forecourt of the British Library. Sadly, it was a victim of vandalism, and so, it was repaired in 2003 and moved to the lower ground area, near the cloakroom.

Although the tree is almost impossible to see, the plaque unveiled when it was planted remains for all to read:

Anne Frank's Tree

Planted on 12 June 1998

To commemorate Anne Frank and all the children killed in wars and conflict in this century.

‘It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions …

‘In the meantime, I must hold on to my ideals. Perhaps one day will come when I’ll be able to realise them.’

Anne Frank’s Diary, 15 July 1944

Planted by the British Library and the Anne Frank Educational Trust UK.

The plaque is now on a red brick wall in the British Library plaza. The tree is less easy to find! It is behind the wall that is about two-metre high that has a privet hedge along the edge.

A life-size bust of Anne Frank, sculpted by Doreen Kern for the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, was placed at the British Library on the 70th anniversary of Anne’s birth, 12 June 1999.

The former children’s poet laureate Michael Rosen wrote a poem specially for the planting of the Anne Frank Tree:

We hope that anyone who knows of this tree
will remember Anne Frank
We hope that anyone who knows of this tree
will remember how from her attic window
Anne Frank watched a tree growing outside
and was so moved and entranced
She couldn’t speak
We hope that anyone who knows of this tree
will remember how Anne Frank lost her life
We hope that anyone who knows of this tree
will never let such things happen again
We hope that anyone who knows of this tree
will have as much hope in their hearts and minds as Anne did.

Anne Frank’s Diary was first published as a book in Dutch in 1947. Since then, millions of people have read the thoughts and hopes of this one young girl and have been inspired by them.

Ann Frank was born in Frankfurt in 1929, and her family moved to Amsterdam when she was four after Hitler and the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933.

Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940, and the Frank family went into hiding in 1942. Anne wrote about receiving her diary as her birthday present that year: ‘I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.’

Anne Frank and her sister Margot and their mother Edith died in Bergen Belsen. Her father Otto Frank was the only member of her family to survive. When he returned to Amsterdam he found Anne’s diary, and decided to publish it so people would remember his daughter and the millions of other people who died in the Holocaust.

‘It’s difficult in times like these; ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.’

Shabbat Shalom

A plaque on a red-brick wall in the British Library plaza is a reminder of the Anne Frank Tree (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Daily prayers in Ordinary Time
with USPG: (68) 4 August 2023

The ‘Te Deum’ window by John Oldrid Scott and Henry Victor Milner in Saint Andrew’s Church, Great Linford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford
We are in Ordinary Time in the Church Calendar, and this week began with the Eighth Sunday after Trinity (30 July 2023). Today, the calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship remembers the life of Jean-Baptiste Vianney, CurĂ© d’Ars, Spiritual Guide, who died in 1859.

Before this day begins, I am taking some time this morning for prayer, reading and reflection.

Having looked at the ‘Te Deum’ window in Saint Editha’s Collegiate Church, Tamworth, on Monday (1 August) at the end of a series of reflections on the windows in Tamworth, I am continuing my morning reflections for the rest of this week in these ways:

1, Looking at a depiction of the canticle ‘Te Deum’ in a church;

2, the Gospel reading of the day in the Church of England lectionary;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

The top panels in the East Window or ‘Te Deum’ window in Saint Andrew’s Church, Great Linford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The East Window (‘Te Deum’ window), Saint Andrew’s Church, Great Linford:

Saint Andrew’s Church in Great Linford, on the edges of Milton Keynes, nestles in the north-west corner of the grounds of Great Linford Manor Park, a 17th century manor house built by the Pritchard family.

The three-light East Window by John Oldrid Scott and Henry Victor Milner (1889) illustrates the canticle Te Deum It shows Christ in Glory and the saints depicted include Saint John the Baptist, Saint Lawrence, Saint George, King Edmund, the Virgin Mary and Saint Augustine.

Saint Andrew’s is one of the ancient churches in Milton Keynes, and is the only place in Milton Keynes where definitive in situ evidence of late Saxon occupation has been discovered.

Excavations beneath the nave of the church suggest a late Saxon or very early Norman church stood on this site, with a simple nave and small chancel. At some time in the 12th century, the present church tower was abutted to the earlier nave and chancel and the western-most wall of the old nave was demolished. However, the roofline survives within the east face of the tower, within the present nave roof.

Over the following centuries, many other demolitions, extensions and alterations to the fabric of the building can be traced, while the internal fixtures and fittings have also been much repaired and altered to accommodate changing tastes and uses.

Today, the church consists of the tower, nave, chancel, south aisle and porch, north chapel and north porch, along with a recently added vestry.

A section of late mediaeval tile pavement has survived too, and at one point, the church may have had a steeple, and an effigy of a Green Man dates from the mediaeval period.

The earliest reference to a chapel at Great Linford is in a charter dated 1151-1154. The first recorded rector of Saint Andrew’s was Geoffrey (or Galfridus) de Gibbewin in 1215. At the time of his death in 1235 he was insane, although he died not at Great Linford, but at Osney Abbey in Oxfordshire.

The barest hints remain of mediaeval paintings in Saint Andrew’s. These include a fragment of 13th century red scroll on the exposed parts of the tower arch.

When the 18th century wooden panelling was removed from the north wall of the nave, at least three periods of painted decoration could be seen. The earliest was a fragment of inscribed scroll that points to the prior existence of a large image.

A fragment found on the west wall of the chancel depicted a series of red and yellow skeletal legs. It is speculated that this would have been an image of the three living and the three dead, intended as an allegorical warning against the emptiness of earthly ranks and riches.

Another fragment of a ‘doom painting’ was found on the chancel arch.

The Pipard family held the manor from the 1180s until 1310, and seemed to be engaged in something of a tussle for ownership with the Butler of Ormond after the marriage of John Pipard’s daughter to an Edmund Butler. King Edward II briefly took control of the manor on the death of Edmund Butler in 1321, and restored the manor to John Pipard in 1323. But by 1328 the Butlers had regained the manor.

James Butler (1420-1461), 5th Earl of Ormond, was a staunch supporter of the House of Lancaster, and after the Yorkist victory at Towton he was beheaded at Newcastle on 1 May 1461. The manor then passed through a number of hands, first to a Richard Middleton and his heirs, then in 1467 to Princess Elizabeth, daughter of Edward IV and future wife of Henry VII.

She was followed by Gherardo di Bernardo Canigiani, a representative in London of the Medici bank of Florence, which was lending vast sums of money to Edward IV to shore up the crown.

When Henry VII became king in 1485, ending the War of the Roses, he annulled the act of attainment against the Butlers, who remained Lords of the Manor until 1560.

Between 1322 and 1535, members of the Butler family of Ormond presented no less than 18 rectors of Great Linford.

The Lords of the Manor of Great Linford held the advowson of the parish or the right to nominate the rector until 1560, when Queen Elizabeth I granted it to a William Button and Thomas Escourt from Wiltshire. By 1590, the advowson had been acquired by Edward Kimpton, a London merchant, who appointed the Revd Richard Napier, who was Rector of Great Linford for over 40 years until he died in 1634.

The coat of arms of King Charles II in the church may date from the 1660s. It was damaged when the coved ceiling was added in 1707,.

The wealthy London merchant Sir William Prichard (or Pritchard) became the new Lord of the Manor in 1678. He knocked down and replaced the mediaeval manor and built the almshouses in the manor grounds. He died in 1705 and was buried in a family vault beneath the church.

His widow Sarah contributed to refurbishing the church in 1707. The mediaeval chancel was demolished and the original material was used to rebuild on the same foundations, while the nave was completely refurbished. The south aisle was also demolished and a new simple narrow replacement built, and the south porch was remodelled. The steeple may have been removed at this time.

The village of Great Linford grew in importance following the construction in 1800 of the Grand Junction Canal and associated wharf to serve Newport Pagnell.

The Revd Christopher Smyth was curate in 1836-1838. Other curates who lived at the Rectory included the Revd Lawson Shan, the Revd Edmund Smyth and his son the Revd William Smyth. The Revd Sidney Herbert Williams played a significant role in the management of Saint Andrew’s School on the High Street.

The Revd William Andrewes Uthwatt (1793-1877) was the titular Lord of the Manor of Great Linford from 1855, but he rarely visited the area. He appointed the Revd Francis Litchfield as rector in 1838. Litchfield was Rector of Great Linford in 1838-1876, but was an absentee pluralist who lived at Farthinghoe in Northamptonshire. Instead, curates lived in the Rectory in Great Linford.

The 12th century tower is the oldest part of the present church. After the weight of the tower had unsettled the foundations and distorted the tower arch, the church was refurbished in 1884.

A new baptismal font was presented to the church by the Clode Family, Mrs Uthwatt gave a new lectern, and a new organ was installed in 1887 by Mr Atterton, of Leighton Buzzard, with an organ recital by Mr B Wilford, of Newport Pagnell.

By 1911, the Uthwatts were no longer living at the Manor House, which was rented to the Mead family. But in 1922, Thomas Andrewes-Uthwatt appointed his son, the Revd Henry Andrewes-Uthwatt, as Rector, and the Uthwatt family continued to present until 1932.

Saint Andrew’s has three good examples of 15th to 17th century brasses commemorating Sir Roger Hunt and his wife Joan, Thomas and Elizabeth Malyn and Anne and John Uvedall.

A large white marble monument on the west wall of the north chapel commemorates Sir William Pritchard and a similar one on the east wall recalls Thomas and Catherine Uthwatt, later owners of the manor.

Considerable refurbishment were carried out in the early 18th century including rebuilding the chancel, south aisle and porch. The pulpit also dates from 1707.

Saint Andrew’s has a full set of six bells made by Joseph Eyre and installed in 1756. A late mediaeval timber roof of the King Post type and carved bosses were revealed during the work in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the mediaeval wall paintings were plastered over at the time, the mediaeval stained glass was removed, and a small 13th century holy water stoup inside the north door was damaged.

The late 19th century saw the addition of new stained glass, oil lights, furniture, remodelled pews and heating.

The three-light East Window by John Oldrid Scott and Henry Victor Milner (1889) is an inspired by the canticle Te Deum. It shows Christ in Glory, and the saints depicted include Saint John the Baptist, Saint Lawrence, Saint George, King Edmund, the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Augustine. Both the East Window and the Reredos below it were erected in memory of Mary Uthwatt of Great Linford, who died in 1885.

The reredos was moved in the 1970s to an unusual place on the north wall, above the entrance from the north porch. This triptych shows the Transfiguration in the centre, with Saint Andrew on the left, and Saint Philip on the right.

Two windows in the south aisle, the Good Samaritan window (1904) and the raising of Jairus’ daughter (1910), are by Charles Eamer Kempe.

The large limestone font probably dates from the late 19th century. The most valuable items of church plate are on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Linford Manor is now owned by Pete Winkelman, chairman of Milton Keynes Dons FC. The former stables and associated gate houses are now an Arts Centre. The former almshouses are not in use, but are scheduled to be restored.

In response to the changes introduced by the new city of Milton Keynes, Saint Andrew’s was redecorated in 1980, with the addition of a vestry, kitchen and toilet, and the pews were removed and replaced by individual seating. The work was assisted by the Archaeology Unit of Milton Keynes Development Corporation.

Saint Andrew’s Church serves the Great Linford, Giffard Park, Blakelands and Redhouse Park areas. It is one of the six churches in the Stantonbury Ecumenical Partnership in north-east Milton Keynes, which serves the areas of and near Bradwell, New Bradwell, Stantonbury, Great Linford, Downs Barn and Willen.

Ministry at Saint Andrew’s is shared between several lay and ordained ministers, and three licensed ministers look after Saint Andrew’s, sharing pastoral leadership: Canon Chuks Iwuagwu, the Rev David Lewis, a Baptist minister, and Colin Taylor.

Sunday Services are at 10 am and include: Open Door, an informal family service (first Sundays), Holy Communion (second, fourth and fifth Sundays), and Baptisms (third Sundays), followed by Holy Communion at 11:15 am.

Holy Communion is celebrated at 10 am on the first Wednesday each month, and the church then remains open until 12:30 for discussion groups, coffee and to welcome visitors.

The lower panels in the ‘Te Deum’ window in Great Linford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 13: 54-58 (NRSVA):

54 He came to his home town and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?’ 57 And they took offence at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour except in their own country and in their own house.’ 58 And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.

The ‘Te Deum’ window, the High Altar and the chancel in Saint Andrew’s Church, Great Linford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayer:

The theme this week in ‘Pray With the World Church,’ the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), is ‘Reflections from the International Consultation.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday by the Very Revd Dr Sarah Rowland Jones of the Church in Wales.

The USPG Prayer Diary today (4 August 2023) invites us to pray in these words:

Lord, help governments, agencies, churches and communities work together to bring the perpetrators of human trafficking to justice. To make and enforce laws to keep the most vulnerable in communities protected.


Almighty Lord and everlasting God,
we beseech you to direct, sanctify and govern
both our hearts and bodies
in the ways of your laws
and the works of your commandments;
that through your most mighty protection, both here and ever,
we may be preserved in body and soul;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion:

Strengthen for service, Lord,
the hands that have taken holy things;
may the ears which have heard your word
be deaf to clamour and dispute;
may the tongues which have sung your praise be free from deceit;
may the eyes which have seen the tokens of your love
shine with the light of hope;
and may the bodies which have been fed with your body
be refreshed with the fullness of your life;
glory to you for ever.

Inside Saint Andrew’s Church, Great Linford, facing east (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The east end of Saint Andrew’s Church, Great Linford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)