In early 1986, there was a proposal to move the whole of St Bartholomew’s church to Newport Beach California. We contacted the now Rector The Rt. Rev’d Stephen C. Scarlett, and asked if he could enlighten us a little more regarding this massive project. His reply was fascinating…….
“The attempt to move St. Bartholomew’s Church, Covenham to Newport Beach took place before I became Rector in 1986. I have now been Rector for 31 years. When I became Rector the plans, such as they were, ended. The plans were never very plausible–though they made for a good story. Those who developed them had no resources to carry them them out. They were counting on a number of people and organizations to donate to the cause including:
The willingness of archaeological students to work for free, the willingness of a shipping line to carry the dismantled church at no cost, and the willingness of the chief landowner in our area to donate land. The plans ignored the fact that it would have been almost impossible for the reassembled church to meet earthquake codes in California. Nonetheless, the people who pursued the project were serious about it. They were committed Anglophiles, some of whom made a trip to England to pursue the project. Among the committed was a beloved late member named Mary Robertson, onetime secretary to Roy Disney. The plans were motivated, I think, by the idea that there were a number of “redundant” churches in England that might be acquired. For some reason St. Bartholomew’s came to their attention.
Once I became Rector, we pursued the more normal American course of buying property and building a church. We purchased land in 1997 and finished our building project in 2002. Here is a picture of our entrance. It does not have the history of St. Bartholomew’s, but it can withstand an earthquake!
Though the project was implausible, it remains a part of our history–and it very good to hear from you. I have glad to know that they are people who still care for St. Bartholomew’s.