||It was at twelve minutes past three o'clock
in the afternoon of Saturday 6 November 1897 that a special train
from London pulled into Herne station on the London, Chatham and Dover
Railway. A deputation from the local Court of Foresters headed the
crowd waiting to meet the distinguished visitors that included John
Passmore Edwards, arriving to lay the foundation stone of the new
Convalescent Home for members of the Friendly Societies. After brief
introductions the party left by assembled carriages to the chosen
site by way of the sea front. Although the ceremony was timed to commence
at three thirty it was nearer four pm when the choir and clergy of
St Martin's took up their positions under the canvas awning.
|. This, together with the platform and a few rows of
red brickwork and a white square stone bearing the engraved particulars
of that afternoons forthcoming ceremony, were gaily decorated with
flags and bunting.
.The ceremony began with a presentation of a bouquet
to Mrs Passmore Edwards by the daughter of Mr J E Nichols, chairman
of the Trustees and who was himself leading the afternoon's proceedings.
These followed a typical pattern for such events in late Victorian
England being a mixture of welcoming and "thanking" speeches
together with suitable return of such thanks. The religious service
was lead by the Vicar of Herne with the hymn "O God our help
in ages past" followed by prayers and blessings. Passmore Edwards
formally laid the foundation stone with the words " I find
this stone is level, plumb and square, and I therefore declare it
to be well and truly laid". In a cavity in the stone was placed
the customary tin box containing copies of that day's issue of the
Times and of the Echo, of which Passmore Edwards was the proprietor.
|Subsequently Passmore Edwards and his party were entertained
by the Trustees to a high tea at the Connaught Hotel. Mr Nichols presided
and the company numbered about 200. A toast to Mr Passmore Edwards'
health was proposed by Mr Nichols and Passmore Edwards responded.