By ANDREW BOY LE
ARIVER-BUS will take the visitor to the London end of the Festival of Britain to the comparative calm of Chelsea's Cadogan Pier.
A few yards beyond it lies that corner of the capital which was once the home of St. Thomas More, and which still contains relics of his age that show up the streets of Chelsea in a
With Fr. Alfonso de Zulueta, parish priest of Our Most Holy Redeemer and St. Thomas More, I walked round the area on a pilgrimage of rediscovery last weekend.
We started in the church itself, kneeling for a moment before the unpretentious little shrine of the
saint, Beneath the statue stands a gilt monstrance-shaped reliquary in which is a tiny piece of vertebral hone. " There can be no doubt about its itithenticity," said Fr. Zulueta. " It can be traced back to his stepdaughter Margaret in the Lowlands. It is one of our greatest prizes."
Above the porch of the church is the More coat of arms, surmounted with the famous Moorish head. I was to see the familiar symbol more than once again •itt the vicinity.
Down Cheyne Walk, along the Embankment under the leafy trees we went; and hard by the bridge across the Thames we reached what the German bombers have left of the old parish church. Nothing stands today but—marvellously enough— the side chapel on the epistle side of the altar, where the More family assisted at Mass.
The epitaph of St. Thomas, cracked in parts by the blitz, hangs on a side wall at the back—its quiet, beautiful Latin carrying one back across the centuries nearer to the mind of a sage who was humble and could also laugh at himself.
" It's a pity nobody has translated it," commented the priest. "The cracks on it don't make it any easier to read."
We walked round the corner and on to a low and rather ugly building. It was the convent of Adoration Reparatrice, where a handful of contemplative nuns pray night and day for the conversion of England.
A sister took us to the tiny garden at the rear with its fine wail of Tudor brick still standing. Fr. Zulueta believes that this wall, bounded the garden of the More estate.
"Another wall identical in structure and size lies some distance away on the ether side of the street," he said. "That marked the place Where the stables once were: A Moravian cemetery and a private flat flank it now."
In the convent garden, its buds ready to burst again as they have been doing for 400 years, stands the huge mulberry tree under which St. Thomas More and his family used to sit and converse during the long summer evenings. " I hope we shall have plenty of mulberries again this year," said the sister with a smile I wondered how the river must have looked from this spot, and on my way back down Beaufort Street which cuts clean across the site where the solid More house stood, facing the Thames and the SeuthI thought of the last time St. Thomas walked this way before he clambered aboard the boat at his own landing stage which took him downstream to the Tower and to martyrdom.