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Badger House - The original home of the Cornelius Trust

THE STORY OF A REMARKABLE GIFT


‘This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes’


The Cornelius Trust and thus Badger House owe their lineage to a long held conviction that Service personnel, their families and friends would greatly benefit from a Christian Conference and Holiday Centre designed to meet the unique demands of military life.  In pursuit of this aim, the Trust was registered in March 1991, after a remarkably swift passage through the Charity Commissioners and the Inland Revenue.


During the first year, approximately £125,000 of the required £700,000 was raised, whilst at the same time a number of Advisors volunteered to help with the burgeoning task of establishing the Trust on a sound and prayer-based footing.  Faced with a somewhat daunting task, those associated with the Trust quickly learned to rely much more upon the Lord Jesus Christ and to trust Him for guidance as they moved carefully, step by step into the second year.  At this point a brochure was designed to spearhead a much wider appeal than had been hitherto undertaken and Sir Harry Secombe (now deceased) agreed to become the Trust’s patron.  Some 3 weeks before the Appeal was launched on 7 September 1992, the Lord graciously confirmed His involvement in the words of 2 Corinthians Ch 5 v 20 ‘For we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us’! On 21 September, just two weeks after the launch of the appeal, Badger House was brought to our attention by Captain David Brown RN, a supporter who had taken up a new appointment with the Bishop of Lichfield, at the beginning of that month.


Badger House and its 8 acre estate (then known as ‘The Rectory’) had been left by the late Dr. Margaret Dix MD FRCS ‘to promote the Christian religion within the Diocese of Lichfield’.  In their desire to discharge the Will, the Executors had first approached the Bishop of Lichfield and, later, other Christian Housing Charities, but to no avail.  No mutually agreeable way forward had been found.  With no firm ideas coming forward and with interest being expressed by one or two secular bodies, the Executors had agreed to meet estate agents at the house on Friday 25 September.  The intention was to discuss how best to market the property and subsequently to apply the proceeds of sale in accordance with the terms of the Will.  Just 4 days before this, the house came to David Brown’s attention and, believing that the Trust might be interested in making a purchase, he visited the property that afternoon.  As God would have it, one of the London based Executors was at the house so, having viewed the estate, David contacted the Trust.


At his suggestion, a Brochure was posted immediately, arriving on the Wednesday.  The Executors read the Brochure and not only found it of great interest, but were struck by what they perceived as a remarkable similarity between the house and the original ‘Artist’s impression of a suitable Centre’.  Consequently, they postponed their meeting with the estate agent and invited the Trust to present aims and intentions.  This was done a week later and the outcome of that extraordinary meeting was the offer of a 6- week period of grace within which to decide whether or not we wished to accept the estate gift, together with sufficient of the antique furniture to maintain the ambience of this remarkable home. The offer was subject to our being able to satisfy the Executors that any plans formulated on the property were both appropriate and viable.


Over the next 6 weeks we visited the house, commissioned a full survey, costed the renovation work, met with the relevant District Council and Conservation officers and considered the results against our aim.  It was clear that the house and grounds represented an enormous and expensive task, as little or nothing had been done to either since the end of the First World War!  Indeed, the house seemed locked away  in a ‘time warp’. Nevertheless, we were convinced that this extraordinary generous offer and the nature and timing of its emergence pointed to the Lord’s involvement. Consequently, having determined that the location and potential met the Trust’s aims, we expected to raise another £200,000 just to restore the property; we returned to the Executors on the 17th November 1992.  To our amazement, their intended generosity was even greater than we supposed.  They offered not only to bestow the estate, but to endow the house with a gift of equity that went a long way towards the perceived cash shortfall; the whole gift subject to Bridgnorth Council’s formal agreement to a ‘change of usage’ for the house, which was given in 1993, when the estate passed to the trust.


Renovation work started on the main building in October of that year and remained more or less on schedule, reaching completion at the end of March 1994.  Even here, our Lord’s hand was clearly evident.  The successful applicant for the building contract not only offered the most sensible portfolio, but, unknown to him, bid at the precise sum set aside by the Trust for the work.  A precise answer to a precise request: ‘Lord, please show us who should undertake this important work’.


The furniture was moved back into the house during April, greatly assisted by a number of willing helpers, who put in an enormous effort to ensure that the Centre opened on time.  With a great sense of thanksgiving, this was achieved right on the schedule forecast in early 1991-1May 1994; appropriately enough a Sunday.  Just 6 weeks later, on 18 June, supporters from all over the UK gathered to give praise and thanks  in a commissioning service which began in Badger Church and progressed to a blessing of house and gardens.


The ‘Cornelius’ story owes everything to the Lord.  Without Him, nothing would have been undertaken.  ‘Success is due simply and solely to the fact that these things were accomplished in accordance with His will and to His precise timing.  In the course of those early years, much was learned about prayer, trust and faith.  There were so many amazing answers to prayer, so many incidents with His hallmark on them, that space does not allow their inclusion.


Badger House was a gift – a gift from our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Centre was in place for 11 wonderful years for His purpose and we are delighted that so many were able to enjoy such a beautiful place.  The proceeds of the sale are now being used in never imagined wonderful ways - praise God.


The Lord bless you and give you His peace.

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