Takapuna ablaze, to be demolished tomorrow

For many years the house on Peaks Hill in Purley, known as Takapuna, was home to the John Fisher School Faith Society from its foundation in 1972 until just a few years ago. The Faith Society at the John Fisher School was the beginning of the Faith Movement. To begin with, the room at Takapuna where the Faith group met, was the Study of Fr Roger Nesbitt; after he left, it became a spare classroom, always left available on Friday evenings for the Faith Society.

The house itself was a residence for some of the many priests who taught in the school at one time. The last resident was Fr Richard Fawssett who lived there until he died on 2 June 2009.

Last night, Sir Dan of the blogosphere phoned me with the sad news that Takapuna was on fire. Today, the Headmaster, Mr Mark Scully told me that the building, which was already in a poor state of repair, is now in a dangerous condition and will be demolished tomorrow.

The many priests and laymen (and indeed some old girls of St Anne's and Coloma) who remember the Friday evening meetings of Faith will be sad to hear of the downfall of Takapuna, but perhaps a quick demolition is in some ways preferable to slow decay: the Sutton Guardian referred to it as a "derelict building." The Faith group at the school continues under the watchful eye of Sir Dan. I will be visiting to give a talk in a few weeks' time. Those who know Sir Dan will not be surprised to hear that he considered the fate of Takapuna to be "symbolic of the state of the Church today."

The Headmaster told me of one poignant detail in the story: while Takapuna was burning and being attended by several fire engines, the Chapel Choir was giving a performance of Faure's Requiem.

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