Staff say goodbye as The Penn Club finds new home

The Royal Foundation of St Katharine has ‘extended the hand of friendship’ by providing a new home for the club.

The entire staff team at the Quaker-founded guest house The Penn Club was made redundant last week, only days after the club revealed that it had found a new home.

The historic Bloomsbury club announced last month that, due to the devastating effect of the pandemic on its finances, it would be forced to close its doors at Bedford Place by the end of March. No agreement could be found with the landlords.

Fergal Crossan, former general manager, told the Friend that he was delighted that The Royal Foundation of St Katharine had ‘extended the hand of friendship’ by providing a new home for the club. He added: ‘Sadly the news does not change the position for any of the staff here. St Katharine’s are fully staffed. Like here, most of their staff are furloughed at the moment. They have promised to keep in touch if anything opens up so I can pass the information on to the Penn Club team. Technically today is my final day. We all got made redundant this morning.’

‘We had the idea of continuing as a virtual club but I am not sure how that would have worked in practice. At least now the club has a physical location,’ he said.

According to a press release from The Penn Club, The Royal Foundation of St Katharine dates back to the twelfth century and shares a lot of values with the Club. ‘It provides a safe, comfortable place to stay, set in lovely gardens and with good transport links to central London.’

The Penn Club board is recommending that members move to house membership at St Katharine’s. A Penn Social Committee will be formed, to continue organising members’ events and provide a link between the old and new. It is planned to install a special long table in the dining room for shared conversations. Membership benefits of St Katharine’s include discount on room rates, food, room hire, and opportunities to participate in courses and retreats.

Fergal Crossan said: ‘I have volunteered to help the new Penn Club committee at St Katharine’s and hope to attend future member events just as a way of keeping in touch.’

The club was due to celebrate its centenary last year. It was opened by the Friends Ambulance Unit in 1920.

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