Our Foundress Mary Bond
Mary, the youngest daughter of Prince and Princess Nicholas Galitzine, was born in London. With her pedigree as a member of one of Russia‟s oldest princely and aristocratic families, she could have presented herself as one of the grandest ladies in Suffolk, but that was not her way. She was shy and retiring to such a degree that few people would have guessed her background.
Being brought up in a pious Russian Orthodox family, the Church was very much part of her life. Moving to Mettingham in 1997 was not something that happened by chance, although the significance was not understood or appreciated at the time. Indeed, I remember a conversation I had with Abbess Tamara in Jerusalem, many years ago, in which I used the words ‘by chance’ about something. Abbess Tamara corrected me by reminding me that nothing happens by chance, even if we do not perceive the reason at the time.
From 1997 to 2008 we supported the Orthodox Church in Felixstowe and travelled there every weekend despite the fact that it is a journey of 47 miles from Mettingham. Indeed it is from one side of Suffolk to the other. When we discovered that the church presence in Felixstowe was to end and be replaced by a church in Essex, it was a shock. Mary wanted a shorter journey on a Sunday morning rather than a longer one. Thus began the consideration of alternative options.
We heard that the owner of the former Methodist church in Bungay might consider selling the building. The further we looked into this, it became obvious that there were too many problems. It was then that Mary decided to build, at her own expense, her own domestic chapel in the grounds of The White House, here in Mettingham. The chapel has been welcomed and appreciated by Orthodox Christians living in the area and is being used by the Church to raise the profile of Orthodoxy in the Waveney Valley (border of Suffolk and Norfolk) area.
Looking back, it is now clear that Mary was becoming ill as long ago as last Christmas. Sadly, at that time, the symptoms we not seen as indicators of anything really serious. Soon after Easter, it became clear that something was seriously wrong. Mary was admitted to the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, which she hated. This led to her being discharged too soon. With the result that she was re-admitted at the beginning of May and then it was discovered that she was suffering from a malignant duodenal tumour which was inoperable due to its extensive nature and her generally very weak condition.
However, the treatment she received did give her a period of remission. In fact, during the summer Mary’s condition improved to such an extent that some people began, mistakenly, to think that the diagnosis was wrong. At the beginning of October, Mary’s condition took a turn for the worse, resulting in her admission, on Tuesday 9 November, to All Hallows Hospital, at Ditchingham, for hospice care. She reposed in the Lord at about 11.30am on Monday 15 November.
May her memory be eternal!
Father Deacon Andrew Bond