Continuing our theme of looking at COG money problems, we decided to have a look at PCG’s supposed purchase of part of the old Ambassador College Bricket Wood campus in England, which was for sale again a couple years ago.
Bob Thiel’s COGWriter reported last year that PCG had purchased the house and a cottage amounting to about seven acres of land in what is now called Hanstead Park. The acquisition apparently cost PCG about $6.8 million, which would certainly add to the financial hole the cult is already in. Thiel said Gerald R. Flurry was looking to start classes there once again. Aside from COGWriter’s report, blogs and commenters have talked about PCG owning a clip of the old Bricket Wood property for months.
We want to know more about this, but couldn’t find any non-blog evidence that PCG actually owns any part of Hanstead Park and the lack of documented evidence suggests they don’t.
Banned! reported that Flurry wasn’t able to buy up as much of the property as he wanted, and that part of the park is being used to film a movie. So it seems that Flurry wasn’t nearly as successful in his Bricket Wood bid as Thiel asserted (not really shocking).
So, we decided to look on the park’s official homepage, which says nothing of such a significant purchase in a history that includes WCG’s Ambassador College. As far as the official site is concerned, St. Congar Land still exclusively owns the property and is looking to redevelop it. However, it doesn’t make mention of any events after October 2012, save for a council decision that “will” happen back in November 2013. So fine. Maybe Hanstead Park just hasn’t updated its website in awhile. Like for two years. Okay.
So we decided to look at its Wikipedia page on the off chance somebody updated it with pertinent information like part of it falling back into the hands of Armstrongites. After all, its been nearly a year since PCG’s purchase and Wikipedia has been really good about updating Ambassador College’s demolitions and changes of hands in Pasadena. Yet, there’s nothing on the Bricket Wood page about it.
A LexisNexis search also didn’t reveal anything about it save for that St. Congar Land owns it.
So we turned to Google in hopes that one of the many press entities in England would have picked up on a purchase of part of an historic location — one mentioned in the Domesday Book — by an American entity. Nope. We find rumblings on blogs about it, in comments, a mention of Flurry’s plans on ESN and elsewhere. An obscure blog about seventh-day churches had this to say about Flurry’s attempt at buying Hanstead:
PCG had hoped to buy Hanstead House, and recreate Herbert Armstrong’s Ambassador College, but it failed to raise enough money, mainly because of the large repayments and running costs for Armstrong Auditorium, completed in 2010 and reportedly costing $25 million to build. (According to Gerald Flurry, PCG’s annual income for 2012 was around $19.5 million.) The former Ambassador College campus is now owned by Saint Congar, a property development company, which is expected to gain approval from the local authority for the conversion of Hanstead House, though perhaps not for all of its controversial housing scheme.
That seems to actually fit with what we’ve researched. Another post on Banned! last month seemed to reset the narrative that Flurry simply wants to buy land in England to reopen the campus and do insane British-Israelism-fueled archaeological digs, but hasn’t done so yet:
There was an announcement made last July 13, 2013 during the PCG Youth Camp at Edmond, Oklahoma about the prospect of the PCG returning to the Bricket Wood, Hertfordshire County, England where the second Ambassador College campus was once situated (1960-1974). Pastor General Gerald Flurry said that they wanted to have another college there and eventually establish an office which would also be used for the planned archaeological dig in Ireland in search of the “ark of the covenant” and the possibility of acquiring the stone of destiny as well. It has not been quite clear though if they are just planning to buy it or has already bought some parcels of the real estate for $6.8 million. But the final deal or negotiation however, would most probably be sealed around September / October 2013 according to their previous estimation, but as hinted at a latter announcement, they suggested an April 2014 timeline. Nevertheless, whatever the date might be, one thing is for sure, the purchase of Bricket Wood shall surely come to pass according to God’s prophecy.
So the reporting timeline on this complicated story goes something like this:
1. Hanstead, the former Bricket Wood campus, was for sale again in 2012
2. Flurry purchased Bricket Wood for $6.8 million in 2013
3. Flurry didn’t manage to purchase as much of Bricket Wood as he wanted and residents battled to keep certain parts of it out his hands
4. St. Congar Land is building a huge development on Hanstead and studios are looking to film a movie on the property
5. Flurry didn’t actually manage to buy any of Bricket Wood because of Herbert W. Armstrong Auditorium’s vast construction costs
6. Flurry wants to buy land in England to do archaeological digs and open a new campus, though not necessarily in Hanstead
Conclusion: despite many previous reports, rumors and posts across multiple sites, PCG does not own any of Bricket Wood. They might be in negotiations, but those apparently have not gone well at all. If there’s information to the contrary, that would be fabulous to see. Obviously, Flurry would want to buy Bricket Wood, because of course he does. Flurry owning the campus would give us a new campus opening to examine and it would deepen the the cult’s financial pit, two interesting developments. But that would require them actually going through with a purchase instead of just talking about it. It seems very unlikely that PCG will be reopening the Bricket Wood campus anytime ever.
We can safely chalk this up to the basic lack of transparency when it comes to cults and PCG getting way too excited about something they wanted but cannot actually afford.