30 SEPTEMBER 2000, Page 32

To Poland's defence

From Z.K Chodzko-Zajko Sir: In her abusive article 'Pole position' (Singular life, 9 September) Petronella Wyatt describes the all-day event at Fawley Court as 'an uncomfortable mixture of civic mediocrity and a yokel alcoholiday'. In fact, it was an ecumenical coming together of the Roman Catholic Marian Fathers, the local United Reformed Church and the Church of England to enable families of the Ham- bleden Valley to celebrate 2,000 years of Christianity. We find it very sad that Ms Wyatt was unable to join in the spirit of the Right. While on the subject of Soapes, upstairs for your bath!' event, an event designed to bring all Chris- tians closer together, irrespective of denomi- nation, colour or nationality.

The gist of Miss Wyatt's argument was that Fawley Court had been ruined by the Marian Fathers. The Fathers bought the property in 1953 with the intention of setting up a boarding school for the exiled Polish community. The house was totally run down, windows were boarded up with planks due to the lack of original panes of glass, walls were crumbling, the vast majority of original fittings were long gone and the house was in a general state of disrepair. It was with full knowledge of the historical importance of the building that the Marians proceeded with the transaction. To see the house today is a testament to the many brothers and priests of the congregation of Marians, the Polish community, and many other friends and sponsors who have devoted so much love, time and money to restoring the build- ing to at least part of its former glory.

`Where was English Heritage in all this?' Ms Wyatt asks. The answer is simple — by our side. The Congregation of Marian Fathers has always consulted English Her- itage and its predecessors about all works carried out there. This is true with respect to the reflective strips placed on a number of the windows recently. This was done to improve the visual aspect of the house with full knowledge and approval of English Heritage before commencing any work. We are, of course, sorry that Ms Wyatt found this so offensive but not altogether sur- prised that she has to date been the only person to make such a comment.

Z.K Chodzko-Zajko

Administrator, Fawley Court, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire