In my Fathers house are many mansions – reflections on Pilgrim Hall

June 10, 2018

in Uncategorized

I’ve always loved the AV rendering of John 14 and its use of “mansions”. It makes me think of Pilgrim Hall, which has been a part of my life since I was a baby. It was named Pilgrim Hall in 1969 when it became a Christian Conference Centre, though interestingly, in the words of Mrs Dorothy Haire, whose father had the house built originally in 1902, “My parents’ first thoughts were that it should be a holy house”, and so it is a building that has, for most of its life, been a place of prayer and worship.

Throughout my life it has been my second home, as a child our family would attend the Easter, Summer and Christmas Houseparties, with dad a part of the ministry team, providing the music. All our family holidays were spent there, with us suffering more than our fair share of childhood illnesses, to the extent that the local GP surgery had records for Tony and me. Christmas at Pilgrim Hall was always a magical time for me as a child, with the enormous Christmas tree, fantastic decorations, presents from Father Christmas found under the tree, singing Christmas carols with the staff outside guests’ bedrooms on Christmas morning and the Christmas concert, with sketches, songs and lots of hilarious turns! In the summer, there would be sessions for the children, putting, tennis, croquet and, although I’ve never been much of a swimmer, I enjoyed sitting by the pool and sometimes paddling.
As I became a teenager I had access to some great Christian teaching and enjoyed spending time with other teens. Most years someone would be waiting for “O” or “A” level results to arrive during our stay, and we would all be on tenterhooks with them. In the summer after my “A” levels I worked with the do-mestic team, waitressing, washing-up, preparing rooms for guests and enjoying the facilities when off-duty.
It was at Pilgrim Hall that a most significant happening occurred, when I met Trevor at the Christmas Houseparty in 1988. Since then, although not attending all the houseparties as when I was younger, we have had opportunity to stay a number of times, one of particular note was when the boys were young and we were staying at the Hall when 9/11 took place. It was a shocking occurrence, but good to be among Christians at this time.
In recent years, Rehoboth has had a number of Church Awaydays and two Church Weekends at Pilgrim Hall, when we have all had the opportunity to share fellowship together, listen to great ministry and en-joy all the facilities, including the swimming pool, even in the rain!
During these years the Director of the Hall changed three times, and each time we wondered as a family if it would be an end to Dad’s part in the ministry, but each time the new incumbent wanted him to con-tinue. The Hall has been run by CWR since 2011, but sadly their time there has come to an end and Pilgrim Hall is moving into the hands of an American missionary society, to be used by them for their own missionaries and will not be available for hire by other groups.
So, by earthly standards it would seem we’ve had our last visit to the place. For me, Pilgrim Hall has been my mansion, a foretaste of the mansion waiting for me in heaven.
Hazel Smith

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: