Service of Thanksgiving to Commemorate the Huguenots of Spitalfields
Thursday 11th April 2013
To the magnificent Church of Christ Church Spitalfields for this remarkable service, presided over by the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, himself of Huguenot descent. He reminded us how completely integrated the Huguenots became, to their and our (the Prideaux having changed their name from Priday somewhat earlier to get on with the Normans) mutual benefit. Of course, one of the many things that the French and the English share is a sense of irony, so I enjoyed Bishop Chartres's historical annecdote about the group of Huguenot Hatters in Wandsworth who supplied the Cardinals in Rome.
He also preached about the high cost of intolerance, to both the persecuted and their persecutors and rejoiced in the religious plurality we too easily take for granted. He pointed out, along the way, that the Labour Party owed far more to Methodism than Marxism and that, even at its transient peak, the British Communist Party managed fewer Members than the Lord's Day Observrance Society.
I couldn't help wondering whether all the current sound and fury over immigration might have been much reduced had Huguenot-style integration become the norm.