The Irving Society Newsletter No 79

The Irvingite


Members are asked to please save the date for the Society’s 23rd Annual General Meeting in celebration of the birth of Sir Henry Irving.  This year’s festivities will take place on the afternoon of Sunday 10 February, 2019.   Members are asked to assemble at the Irving statue on Charing Cross road at 2.15pm.  Following the ceremonial laying of the wreath at the Irving Statue, we will walk together to the Concert Artistes’ Association on 20 Bedford Street, London WC2E 9HP for the Annual General Meeting which will begin at 3pm.  Following the meeting, member David Drummond will give a presentation entitled Knights to Remember: Early Honours in the Theatre as recalled by David Drummond… with occasional pops as prompts!

The Committee also wishes to let members know that, at this year’s meeting, they will be asked to take a vote on the future of the Society.  Although it is very disappointing for us, the sad reality is that membership numbers have fallen over the past several years and, alongside the loss of a number of long-standing committee members, we have grown concerned that the Society will not be able to sustain itself for much longer.  As this vote will be an important one, the Committee requests that as many members who are able please be present on the day.  Members who are not able to attend are welcome to share their views in writing, either by email or post to the Chair Frances Hughes, or via the Honorary Secretary Megan Hunter, at

Please note that members will also receive this notice, alongside an agenda for the day, by email and/ or post (if preferable).


As members will be taking a vote on the future of the Society at the forthcoming AGM, please note that 2018 memberships have now been extended through the end of February 2019.  The Honorary Secretary will be in touch after the AGM with additional information.


We are very excited to announce that a new edition of First Knight will be available at the forthcoming AGM (and posted afterwards to those members who are unable to attend).  The edition will include a full account of the Society’s recent visit to Westminster Abbey, including a transcript of David Mayer’s address.


Members will know from prior correspondence that in late summer of 2018 the Society lost two loyal and much loved members, Hilary Phillips and Helen Smith.  Services for Hilary and Helen were held on the same day – Wednesday 19 September – with Hilary’s held at St Paul’s Covent Garden and Helen’s held at Golders Green Crematorium.  Members were in attendance at both services.

With thanks to members Bunty Taylor and Ellen Terry Craig, who have prepared the following account of Hilary’s memorial service.  An account of Helen’s memorial service will appear in the next newsletter.   They are both deeply missed, and their absences will, in particular, be felt at the forthcoming AGM.

On 19th September we gathered together at St Paul’s Church Covent Garden to celebrate the life of Hilary Phillips. Hilary was a loyal and much loved member of the Irving Society. She passed away peacefully in her sleep on August 30th.

Inside, the church was bathed in sunlight as the Rev. Simon Grigg welcomed family and friends with the opening prayer. A Welsh theme was in evidence throughout the service , including an exquisite rendition of Myfanwy sung by Olwen Morgan. 


Following fitting tributes from her loving family and an emotional eulogy read by a dear friend, Robert Meakin, we were all invited to share refreshments at the Club for Acts and Actors across the road in Bedford Street.

– Bunty Taylor and Ellen Terry Craig

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