By A Staff Reporter
The Westminster Diocesan Seminary of St. Edmund's, Ware, Hertfordshire, is to become the first in England and Wales to experiment in urban living when the 70 strong community moves to London next year.
Mgr. James O'Brien, the Rector, said the move was necessary "because the school is expanding here and eleven of our students attend Heythrop College, London." These students already spend some of the week in London, he added.
Seminaries abroad have all but broken up on moving to cities, but Mgr. O'Brien does not fear this will happen to Ware.
"We shall try and avoid the extremes of some American and continental experiences and we are keeping our students and staff together," he said. "I personally feel a move like this is justified."
St. Edmunds College inherited the tradition of the famous English College in Douai, which was closed by the French revolution. St. Edmunds opened as a seminary and private school in 1873. The College hopes to move to the Convent of St. Thomas More, Chelsea, where some of the students stay when in London.
St. Edmund's School has over 400 pupils, over half of whom are boarders. The cost of revamping the Convent and allowing the school to expand into former seminary buildings would be far cheaper than building either a new school or seminary.
Costs of this expansion will be defrayed by, the sale at Sotheby's, London, of the "Old Hall Manuscript."
This is said to be the most important surviving manu
script of pre-Reformation English liturgical music. It is estimated by Sotheby's to be worth over £50,000.
Written around 1410, it belongs to St. Edmunds College.
Bishop Butler, President of the College, said: "The responsible authorities have had to ask themselves whether it is their duty to retain possession of the manuscript, or to use it as a means to finance capital_ expenditure already undertaken or likely to be required here. In view of the probability, not seriously contested, that the manuscript was a payment for the education of a buy, the latter course has been chosen as that which is called for by our present needs and prospective function."
The I I2 leaf manuscript contains 147 compositions, two attributed to "Roi Henry", probably Henry V. Much of the music is not found in any other manuscript. It was for a time in the possession of the Chapel Royal and 25 composions are by chapel members who are known to have accompanied Henry V to Agincourt.