Posts Tagged ‘St Mary’s’

Rooted

July 23, 2016
Rooted

Rooted

Rooted, an art exhibition in St Mary’s.

Very much influenced by Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso.

Unfortunate too many of the displayed works covered in glass, making impossible to see.

Book launch of Reimagining Discipleship

October 23, 2012
Robert Cotton speaking from the pulpit used by Lewis Carroll

Robert Cotton speaking from the pulpit used by Lewis Carroll

Re-imagining Discipleship - Robert Cotton

Reimagining Discipleship – Robert Cotton

Following the anti-cuts rally last weekend Giles Fraser, former Canon-Chancellor at St Paul’s (the man who a year ago said St Paul’s in-the-Camp could remain) and now Priest-in-charge, St Mary, Newington, commented: Didn’t see one church banner on today’s march.

A damning indictment of the church today, and why many people see the church as an irrelevance. A church that grew out of a small Jewish sect led by a charismatic leader who did not hesitate to get his hands dirty, who walked among the poor, the diseased and disadvantaged.

I rarely set foot inside a church. Nay correction, I rarely attend a service, I am happy to set foot inside. The reason why is that I cannot stomach the hypocrisy. It is as though the world outside the church door does not exist.

It is not just the poverty and greed that sits cheek by jowl on their own doorstep that is ignored, they turn their faces away from what is happening in the Middle East, where Christians ask why do they ignore us in the West?

In Russia we have seen two members of Pussy Riot, having been sentenced to two years in a Stalinist-era show trial, for what was at worst a misdemeanour, now being sent to penal colonies, the modern day Gulags.

Jesus spoke out against the corruption in the Temple, the abuse of power and was crucified. Pussy Riot spoke out against the Mafia Monks of Moscow and get two years in a Gulag.

Had Giles Fraser been in St Mary’s in Guildford this evening for the book launch of Reimagining Discipleship he may have in part had an answer.

After offering everyone wine, which I thought was very generous, Canon Robert Cotton spoke from the pulpit, the very same pulpit from which Lewis Carroll delivered the occasional sermon.

Reimagining Discipleship is a book in three parts. It draws on anecdotes and his experience of being part of and working with communities in Guildford.

A sense of space. St Mary’s provides a sense of space, a safe space. As do in a different context the Street Angels who work on the streets of Guildford late at night until the early hours of the morning.

Shakespeare Guildford Company was given as a community group, the community plays, the community is the audience.

We cannot manage volunteers. We can only lead by example, inspire.

Robert is a very good speaker and it was a disappointment he did not speak for more than about ten minutes. He said he did not wish to say too much about his book, he would rather we went out and read, but in the meantime, please enjoy the wine, circulate and chat to each other.

I had an interesting conversation with the lady who was sitting next to me.

What Robert was embracing, was a cultural shift that is taking place. Two strands are coming together. One is the people who occupied St Paul’s in-the-Camp (and curiously church people were very heavily involved) who are seeking alternatives. The other is poor and disadvantaged who have no choice than to explore alternatives (something Robert would have seen and experienced in South Africa). We have a soft revolution, not a hard revolution, existing institutions are being hollowed out from within or rendered irrelevant.

St Mary’s was packed. Many times the number who attended the e-book debate at The Electric Theatre, and unlike the Electric Theatre, no childish prohibitions on taking pictures.

Robert kindly signed a copy of his book with a lovely dedication. I shall look forward to reading it.

We had a brief discussion on the possibility of two writers for next year, which if comes to fruition, will very much be the stars of the Book Festival.

Canon Robert Cotton is Rector of Holy Trinity and St Mary’s. An unusual parish as it has two churches.

The book launch of Reimagining Discipleship was one of the events of the Guildford Book Festival, an annual ten-day book festival in October that takes place in Guildford.

Earlier in the day I had spent a misty afternoon in Godalming. In the Parish Church I lit candles for Canon Andrew White (who is currently undergoing treatment in Holland), writer Paulo Coelho and my lovely Russian friend Lena.

On my way into Guildford I noticed Eden People were meeting at The Keystone. I would have liked to have gone along, but decided to go home. Somewhat depressing, no information put out for this meeting. Only last week, I had someone ask me when were Eden People next meeting at The Keystone. I said I did not know, as I had not heard anything lately, and I was in The Keystone that evening.

Passing through Aldershot Station, a very unpleasant incident, a man fell down the stairs and smashed his head on the ground, he was not moving, his head in a pool of blood.

Top Story in Publisher’s Daily (Wednesday 24 October 2012).

Candles in St Mary’s

December 19, 2011
candles in St Mary's

candles in St Mary's

Sadly it is not often St Mary’s in Guildford is found to be open.

Today it was.

Three candles lit: One for my lovely but sadly mad friend Sian, one for Paulo Coelho as thanks for writing Aleph, and one for Canon Andrew White who was back in Iraq.

St Andrew’s revisited
Nine Lessons and Carols at St Nicolas

A picture at an exhibition

March 30, 2011
Rosemary for Remembrance - Ann Sinclair

Rosemary for Remembrance - Ann Sinclair

artists on closing day of U3A art exhibition at Guildford Institute

artists on closing day of U3A art exhibition at Guildford Institute

With apologies to Mussorgsky.

Sometimes a particular picture catches our eye, and so it was for me, one picture out of maybe a hundred caught my eye. It was a strange picture. It clearly had an Alice theme, but with dark Gothic overtones, hints of Edgar Allan Poe. I was intrigued and baffled. Why the cross and open grave as the centre piece of the picture? It was unfortunate the artist had decide to put glass over her painting as the refections made it nigh impossible to see the work. The title of the work, Rosemary for Remembrance, gave not a hint, far from it, as it seemed in no way connected to the painting.

I was in Guildford for the day, or at least lunch and the rest of the day. It was whilst having lunch at the Guildford Institute surrounded by paintings that I spotted this strange painting. It was part of an exhibition by Guildford U3A.

It was an altogether strange Alice cum art cum Paulo Coelho cum Orhan Pamuk day out.

My day started seeing an American lady looking rather lost outside St Mary’s. I stated the obvious that it was locked, and added that sadly it was rarely open. For her it was a pity as she was in Guildford for the day for its Lewis Carroll connections. There must be many disappointed visitors like her. More must be done to keep St Mary’s open. I like to sit in St Mary’s in quiet reflection, when I find it open that is.

I explained a little of the history of St Mary’s, told her Lewis Carroll had a house nearby and gave the occasional sermon in St Mary’s. And I gave her a couple of websites where more information could be found on Lewis Carroll and Guildford.

keithpp.wordpress.com/ —> Lewis Carroll
www.heureka.clara.net/art/ —> Lewis Carroll
www.heureka.clara.net/surrey-hants/ —> Guildford

I then had lunch at the Guildford Institute where I spotted the strange painting. It was part of an exhibition by Guildford U3A.

I always pop into the library, a lovely little private library. Chatting to a lady I suggested she read Paulo Coelho. I pulled off the shelves one of his books and gave her websites where she could find more information on the author.

keithpp.wordpress.com/ —> Paulo Coelho
www.heureka.clara.net/art/ —> Paulo Coelho

Leaving the Guildford Institute I chatted with a lovely young Spanish woman who was a keen fan of Paulo Coelho. I gave her websites where she could find more information.

keithpp.wordpress.com/ —> Paulo Coelho
www.heureka.clara.net/art/ —> Paulo Coelho

I was then in a bank, more Paulo Coelho fans.

Then a secondhand bookshop where I met a charming Indian who I had never seen before. Any books by Paulo Coelho? Yes. Please show me I said, knowing there were none. Oh, she said, there are none. I then explained I had bought all eight the previous Friday! It turned out she too was a Paulo Coelho fan and she told me that he was a very popular writer in India. She also liked Orhan Pamuk. I was impressed! I gave her websites for more information.

keithpp.wordpress.com/ —> Paulo Coelho
www.heureka.clara.net/art/ —> Paulo Coelho
www.heureka.clara.net/art/ —> Orhan Pamuk

Fancying a cup of tea I thought I would pop in the little tea shop in Guildford House. It has been closed for weeks if not months. Apart from the Tourist Information that has now relocated to Guildford House it all looked closed, so I inquired, to be told, yes it was open. The tea shop was devoid of customers. Apparently few people had bothered to do as I had and inquired, they had walked past assuming it was closed. I asked had they been compensated for the loss of trade whilst Guildford House was closed. No, was the response, and they had still been charged rent!

Walking down the High Street I chatted with a lady who was just finishing a drawing of the Old Town Hall. She said she would be turning it into a water colour. She had come all the way down from Malvern for the day for this one painting. She showed me a photo of a painting she had done in Oxford the previous day. As she had lost her train times, I gave her my timetable, which I said would give her the times of trains from Guildford to Reading. I gave her a website for information on Guildford.

www.heureka.clara.net/surrey-hants/ —> Guildford

All in all, a very interesting day.

Life of Lewis Carroll in Guildford

July 19, 2010
Chestnuts – home of Lewis Carroll and his sisters in Guildford

Chestnuts – home of Lewis Carroll and his sisters in Guildford

Fight for your dreams, and your dreams will fight for you. — Paulo Coelho

It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting. — Paulo Coelho

An excellent talk by Mary Alexander, curator of Guildford Museum, on the Life of Lewis Carroll in Guildford, drawing upon his journals.

The Rev Charles Dodgson lived three lives (apart from that as the writer Lewis Carroll), he lived at Christchurch College Oxford, lived in Guildford with his sisters, spent time in Eastbourne on holiday.

Charles Dodgson came from a large family. His father was ordained, as was his grandfather. It was a tradition for the men of the family to go into either the army or the church. Charles Dodgson chose neither, his preferred profession was mathematics at Oxford.

To hold a position at Christchurch it was necessary to be ordained. He also could not marry.

He was very religious and would attend church twice on a Sunday. Not always the same church. Although ordained, he chose not to go into the Church, but he did occasionally preach.

After he was ordained, it was six months before he delivered his first sermon. He was pretty relaxed about it. He made no preparation the night before on the grounds he was too tired. Over breakfast he made a few notes.

He gave a few more sermons over the next few years, then nothing for twenty years.

He noted in his journal that he felt unworthy to enter the church, but intriguingly does not say why. This has opened the door to worthless speculation that too often gets reported as fact.

None of his sermons survive, but he was known as a good story teller, we can therefore only speculate. A contemporary account speaks well of his sermons.

One myth to be knocked on the head: He did not befriend children because he did not get on well with adults. He had an active social life whilst in Guildford. He also had several female friends.

Note: Edward Wakeling (Lewis Carroll researcher and editor of the Dodgson Journals) makes a similar point in a talk he gave a few years previous to the Lewis Carroll Society. Charles Dodgson was a socialite! Edward Wakeling slams biographers for perpetuating myths, for writing what readers wish to hear to sell more copies, for failing to use primary sources, and even when they do, failing to comprehend the context. All very basic for historical research. [see The Real Lewis Carroll]

In his talk Edward Wakeling cites a lovely example from the Dodgson journals relating to St Mary’s (only it was St Mary’s Oxford, not Guildford!):

Dec: 6. (Sun). “Preached at St. Mary’s, at the evening service. One of our Chaplains, the Rev. Sydney Baker, is curate in charge, and had asked for my help. It was indeed a privilege to be thankful for – but a formidable task: I had fancied there would be only a small audience, and the church was full, as well as the West Gallery, and the North one partly filled as well. I took as text Mark IX, 24, and the sermon lasted about 18 minutes.”

The Dodgsons moved to Guildford from Croft in Yorkshire when their father died and the rectory had to be vacated.

Cross given to St Mary's by sisters of Charles Dodgson

Cross given to St Mary's by sisters of Charles Dodgson


His sisters were also active in the Parish, helping with good causes. The brass cross on the altar at St Mary’s is believed to have been given by his sisters. They are known to have given St Mary’s a cross and there is no record of a subsequent cross.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written in Oxford following a story telling for his friend Alice Liddell. Through the Looking-Glass was part written in Guildford.

He liked walking. He would walk to Albury. Or walk to Farnham along the Hog’s Back and return on the train.

His death was sudden and a shock. He took ill with flu, it went to his chest and he never recovered. His funeral was poorly attended. He lies buried in Guildford. His sisters placed a simple white cross on his grave with the words ‘Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) fell asleep Jan. 14, 1898.’

Mary Alexander has written a booklet, Lewis Carroll and Guildford, published by Guildford Museum (July 2010). The front cover is illustrated with Chestnuts, the house a few minutes walk from St Mary’s where Charles Dodgson lived with his sisters.

Mary Alexander was an excellent speaker, knowledgeable on her subject, it was therefore very unfortunate that most of her talk was drowned out by the ringing of the church bells. Pleasant walking to the church, but a headache once inside.

Mary Alexander and Edward Wakeling

Mary Alexander and Edward Wakeling


The talk was followed by Matins. Mary Alexander read the two lessons, Selwyn Goodacre, from the Lewis Carroll Society, gave the sermon.

Selwyn Goodacre spoke of the religious aspect of the life of Charles Dodgson. It was not the odd sermon, or regular attendance at church, it permeated all aspects of his life. Father of Selwyn was ordained and a good friend of Father Somerset Ward. Father Somerset Ward draw religious and spiritual insight from Alice.

I was reminded of Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. Not because his style is similar to Lewis Carroll (as it is not) or that he writes nonsense (as he does not) but the spiritual element of his writing. The Alchemist is a fairy tale of sorts. Alice descends into a dream, Santiago follows his dreams.

Two of the hymns had a Lewis Carroll connection.

Breathe On Me Breath of God, written by Edwin Hatch, father of the three Hatch sisters who were friends of Lewis Carroll. Evelyn Hatch went on to edit the 1933 volume of The Letters of Lewis Carroll. Selwyn met Ethel Hatch many years ago when she was over 100 years old!

All Creatures of Our God and King, written by W H Draper who married one of Lewis Carroll’s friends. Selwyn has written a booklet about Lewis Carroll and W H Draper.

The pulpit from which Mary Alexander gave her talk and Selwyn Goodacre the sermon, is the same pulpit used by Charles Dodgson.

Matins was followed by sherry, which I thought was very kind and generous of St Mary’s.

Members of the Lewis Carroll Society went off to have lunch. I decided to follow the example of Charles Dodgson and took myself for a walk along the River Wey to St Catherine’s Lock.

St Mary's Church

St Mary's Church


St Mary’s is the oldest church in Guildford. The tower dates from around 1050 AD and is the town’s oldest pre-conquest building. Norman columns and arches dominate the interior. Somewhat unusual it is twinned with Holy Trinity Church at the top of the High Street. I thought this was our secular society, churches and parishes having to time share the same vicar, but I learnt this was not the case. When Charles Dodgson was involved with St Mary’s this arrangement existed. I spoke with the Curate who took the service and he told me that the parish had two churches and this arrangement had existed since at least 1699. As well as occasionally preaching at St Mary’s, the funeral of Charles Dodgson also took place in St Mary’s.

Charles Dodgson and his sisters lived at Chestnuts, a house only a few minutes walk from St Mary’s.

Curiouser and Curiouser: A programme of events in Guildford, part of (though extending beyond) the Guildford Summer Festival.

The Lewis Carroll Society meet at places associated with Lewis Carroll.

Serendipity: Little did I know when I took the photo at St Mary’s of Mary Alexander and Charles Wakeling comparing notes, that Charles Wakeling had made a similar point to Mary Alexander on Dodgson Myths in a talk he had given to the Lewis Carroll Society a few years earlier. A talk I literally stumbled upon a few days later! Synchronicity? [see The Real Lewis Carroll]

Also see

Legacy of Lewis Carroll

Tai Chi in the Jabberwocky Maze