Charles Lindley, second Viscount Halifax, was born in 1839. He was confirmed while at Eton by Bishop Wilberforce, who laid on hands protected by white kid gloves, and it was here he formed the religious beliefs that were to stay with him for the rest of his life.
He was one of the small circle of aristocratic boys selected by Prince Albert as suitable playmates for the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, and they remained friends for the rest of Edward’s life, although Halifax was obliged to resign as a Groom of the Bedchamber as a consequence of his opposition to the Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874.
Halifax became President of the English Church Union at the age of 29 and abandoned thoughts of a political career (his father had been Chancellor of the Exchequer and his son would be Foreign Secretary at the outbreak of World War II) to devote his time to church affairs. He was to remain President for most of his life.
Halifax served as churchwarden of St Barnabas Pimlico but at some point transferred his allegiance to its sister church, St Mary's Graham Street. When St Mary's was endowed as a parish in 1909 Halifax became churchwarden and held office until his death in 1934.
The principal cause in Halifax’s life was the reunion of Christendom, particular of the Churches of England and Rome. It was largely due to his efforts that Pope Leo XIII was persuaded to establish the Commission to consider the validity of Anglican orders, so when in 1896 the Bull Apostolicae Curae declared such orders to be ‘absolutely null and utterly void’ Halifax was much criticised. However, he persevered in his cause, particularly through the Malines conversations of the 1920s and, although his work seemed to bear little fruit in his lifetime he did much to prepare the ground for the significant improvement in relations between the two churches that was to occur after the Second Vatican Council.