THE MARIAN Fathers of Henley-on-Thames have pulled the plug on corporate hospitality at this year's Henley Royal Regatta.
The Polish Catholic order owns the spectacular Christopher Wren-designed home, Fawley Court a favourite among discerning regatta spectators because of its superlative views of the Thames.
In previous years the country seat, which the Fathers bought after the war, has seen its grassy slopes speckled with marquees, Pimms cups and girls in summer frocks as regatta organisers have rented the site for corporate hospitality during the Regatta Week at Henley one of the sporting and social highlights of the English summer season.
But this year the Polish priests decided to forego the extra revenues of hiring out the grounds because, as Fr Gerard Domanski said, "we needed to level the ground in order to have the tents erected, and we didn't have enough time before the Regatta to do so."
Due to the cleaning of the nearby canal, Fr Domanski explained, a great deal of the ground was very wet and difficult to work with: He said that usually the Fawley Court grounds arc rented in a company-let arrangement, because "to monitor the people who come into the historic grounds and to make sure no damage is done" would prove too difficult otherwise.
This year. however. no such arrangement had been undertaken.
Fr Domanski said that Henley revellers would not be altogether missed by the Marian Fathers: "It was partly disturbing, all these people coming and going... it was not so bad, but not so good either."