Fr. Charles Briggs, Parish Priest of Chislehurst, invited Fathers Finigan
to Sunday lunch at Chislehurst Golf Club. Somehow or other, I managed to get myself invited along too! I've never been to Chislehurst Golf Club, and didn't know where it was, exactly, (yes, I did
realise that it would be in Chislehurst, I'm not that
blonde!) though I found that I'd actually driven past it pretty regularly...
It was very, very enjoyable. I felt a little underdressed: swathes of watered silk, tafetta, muslin and lace, along with a bustle and a few strings of pearls would have been far more appropriate for the very grand dining room. There was a very impressive portrait on the wall, of the Empress Eugénie and her son, the Prince Imperial Eugène Louis John Joseph. They came to England to escape something horrible, I can't remember what, exactly, and fetched up in Chislehurst. The Golf Club is their former home, and the Emperor Napoleon III (the Empress' husband) was buried for a while in St. Mary's, Chislehurst, before being carted off to Farnborough Abbey.
Remembering a scene from the excellent film Bernadette, by Jean Luc Delannoy, I recalled that the Empress Eugénie had actually given her son some water from the Grotto at Lourdes, and this had cured him. Seems odd to think of them actually living down the road, so to speak... I mean, they were French... and French royalty, to boot!
As well as the portrait (I didn't get a photo, but Fr. Tim has managed to get one
on a previous visit) there is the following piece of memorabilia on the wall of the main hallway...
The death certificate of Napoleon III, no less! One detail rather amuses Fr. Tim, and he pointed it out to us: under "Occupation" it is noted that the deceased was "Emperor of the French."
Lunch was very good too. Fr. Z. was persuaded to have treacle tart
for dessert, something he had never experienced before. He was warned by the waitress that the tart was very hot, and, as he registered disbelief, (the plate was cold) we had to explain that the treacle itself would be extremely hot, and sticky, and that this combination could take the skin off the roof of his mouth if he wasn't careful! He survived the experience, but I doubt he'll try to repeat it!!