Lockhart & The Rosminians
The Rosminians had worked very successfully in the Nottingham and Leicester areas and later in North London. The Rector of the North London Mission was Father William Lockhart, an Oxford convert and friend of the man who was to become the great English Cardinal, John Henry Newman; and it was Lockhart’s conversion that finally convinced Newman that he too should become a Catholic.
The then Cardinal, Henry Manning, wished the Rosminians to serve in the slum areas of Holborn. Father Lockhart was chosen for this task. And in December 1873, he learned that the ancient Chapel of St Etheldreda’s was about to be sold by auction. Father Lockhart faced competition from the Welsh Episcopalians, who had the backing of a Welsh steel magnate. But at the auction, the Welshmen made a mistake. They thought Father Lockhart’s agent was theirs, so they stopped bidding. And with the next bid of £5,400 St Etheldreda’s was knocked down to the Rosminians. As is recorded:
The next day, the Welsh clergyman called on Father Lockhart and offered him a considerably higher sum than was bid, but Father Lockhart declined. “Well, Sir,” said the clergyman, “I’m sorry to have lost the old place but this I will say – I’m glad it has passed into your hands for you will, I have no doubt, restore it in a way that we never could
Father Lockhart launched an immediate restoration appeal. Money poured in. Father Lockhart then began years of extensive and costly restoration.