Aix-en-Provence 2016

“Voicing Dissent in the Long Reformation”

The Eighth Triennial Conference of the International John Bunyan Society

(Aix-en-Provence, 6-9 July 2016)

The preparations for the Aix-en-Provence triennial conference of the IJBS are well under way and we have posted a preliminary announcement on our ‘Conference’ page. Please check the page regularly as we will keep updating it. The Call for Papers will be issued in January 2015 and the proposals will be received until May 2015.

We are looking forward to hearing from you all in due course and welcoming you to Provence!

Anne Page

By Guillaume 1995 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Sénanque Abbey. By Guillaume 1995 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Appeal from Bunyan Meeting, Bedford

The IJBS is happy to relay this appeal from Bunyan Meeting, Bedford

‘Bunyan Meeting in Mill Street, Bedford is one of the most important Nonconformist churches in the UK. Its origins go back to 1650, when a group of men and women began worshipping in Bedford outside the confines of the Church of England. In 1672, shortly after John Bunyan was elected pastor, the congregation purchased an orchard in Mill Lane (now Mill Street), and a barn in the orchard was licensed for preaching.

Capture d’écran 2014-08-19 à 17.29.14

And so began the history of Bunyan Meeting. The Reverend Christopher Damp, the present minister, is the twenty-first minister of the church. The building that stands today is the third purpose-built church on the site. It was opened in 1849 and the schoolrooms which back onto Castle Lane were added in 1866.

Today, Bunyan Meeting is a thriving town-centre Church, which as well as still holding two services on a Sunday, is open throughout the week, Tuesday–Saturday, and is ‘home’ to various community groups as diverse as Sight Concern and Bedford Town Band.

 Why this appeal?

Unfortunately, time and the elements have caught up with the buildings and today’s congregation and trustees find themselves facing a repair bill of over £660,000. The roof over the schoolrooms, which was only re-slated about 30 years ago, has to be replaced as the Spanish slates which were used have reacted with our environment and climate and holes have appeared in as many as 60% of them’.

Carry on reading about the Appeal and how you can contribute here.

Bunyan in chains

We can gain a remarkable insight into the use of Bunyan’s works thanks to a copy of the 1692 folio that has just been donated to the Angus Library and Archive, Regent’s Park College, Oxford, by the Faringdon Baptist Church, in Berkshire. While working in that Library, I was astonished to be shown what I believe is the only chained copy of the folio in existence. A portion of the rusty chain is still attached to the book, and a fly-leaf note, bearing the name of Philip Farmer, describes how the book was to be used in its original home :

This book was given by Phillip ffarmer to the Church of Christ meeting at their meeting house in Westbrook at ffaringdon, Constituted of such only as are baptized upon profession of their faith; to abide fixed in their meeting house for the use of all such whether members or hearers as shall resort thither at convinient seasons to read in it or hear any part of it read; Never to be moved from their present meeting house so long as they or their succcessours of the same faith and order shall possess and use the same for their meeting house; and if ever that church so constituted shall remove to another meeting place or be [letters deleted] divided, it is the will of the donor that the greatest number of such members as afores[ai]d that shall hold together shall possess and enjoy this book for common use as aforesaid This is declared by the donor the first day of ffebruary anno dom[in]j 1711

                                                                                                Phillip ffarmer

Witness. Tho: Langley

This is a unique document, describing how the Bunyan folio was to be permanently kept in the meeting house, for all those wishing to read it, or be read to from it, when stepping into the building. The volume does not possess the frontispiece, the list of subscribers, or the index dedication.

Faringdon Baptist Church, Bromsgrove face, http://www.geograph.org.uk © Roger Templeman, CC BY-SA 2.0

Faringdon Baptist Church, Bromsgrove face,http://www.geograph.org.uk © Roger Templeman, CC BY-SA 2.0

A 19th-century loose sheet inserted in the volume, simply entitled ‘Baptist Church, Faringdon,’ reveals the full contents of a second fly-leaf, which is unfortunately torn. The text runs:

‘A book of Bunyan’s works, originally presented to the Church in the year 1711, by Philip Farmer, and removed by Thomas Mace to prevent it being stolen in the year 1761, was restored by Mr. J. Broad, of Reading, May 21st 1888, particulars of each circumstances being written on the fly-lead of the book, now chained to [an] antique oak lectern in its original position in the Chapel’.

The Angus Library and Archive now possesses three copies of the folio, whose editorial history might still yield some surprises. For those unfamiliar with their wonderful records, see their website, http://theangus.rpc.ox.ac.uk

With many thanks to Emma Walsh and Emily Burgoyne.

Anne Page, Oxford, July 2014

IJBS’s meeting at Harlington Manor

Joel Halcomb, David Parry, Roger Pooley, Bob Owens, David Walker, Nathalie Collé-Bak, Tamsin Spargo, Michael Davies, Anne Page, Christopher Page, Lydia Saul and Vera Camden.

Joel Halcomb, David Parry, Roger Pooley, Bob Owens, David Walker, Nathalie Collé-Bak, Tamsin Spargo, Michael Davies, Anne Page, Christopher Page, Lydia Saul and Vera Camden.

To stand in the very room where John Bunyan waited to be interrogated at Harlington manor in Bedfordshire; to follow his footsteps into the main part of the house where the questioning took place; to find the same panelling on the wall that Bunyan would have seen and the same fireplace where the fire would have been roaring that chilly November evening in 1660: this was all an extraordinary experience for twelve members of IJBS when the society held its first ever spring-day meeting at Harlington Manor on 23rd May 2014. There were members from France, Britain and the USA.

Bunyan window in Harlington Church

After a short train journey from London St Pancras, we gathered for a pub lunch in the village before meeting the present owner of Harlington Manor, David Blakeman. David then gave us a most interesting and erudite tour of the house culminating in the visit to the two rooms mentioned above. This was a moving occasion for us all, since for most of us it was our first visit to the house and gardens.

We then retreated to the dining room for a meeting held in two parts: Vera Camden, currently on a research trip to Dr Williams’s Library, London, spoke about her forthcoming edition of Mary Franklin’s commonplace book and ‘experience’, a manuscript of the 1680s taken up a hundred years later by her granddaughter Hannah Burton. Then David Parry presented some of his current work on conceptions of rhetoric and allegory in Puritan writings.

???????????????????????David Blakeman’s six-year old son Alex is currently collecting for Addenbrookes charity, so during our break, after the two papers, we were served tea and delicious cakes for a modest contribution to this worthy cause.

The second part of the afternoon was dedicated to IJBS business, according to the following agenda:

  • 2016 Triennial Conference planning (report by President, Anne Page)
  • Links with other relevant societies
  • Membership (report by Secretary, Bob Owens)
  • Finance (report by European Treasurer, David Walker)
  • Website and communication with members (report by President, Anne Page)
  • The Recorder (report by Editor, Nathalie Collé-Bak)
  • Bunyan Studies (report by Editor, Bob Owens)

 IMG_0943The ensuing discussion concluded that the IJBS should pursue three main actions in the next few months: (1) to encourage institutional membership by targeting libraries and institutions with Dissenting interests, (2) to place panels, introducing the society and its work, in the programmes or accompanying literature for international conferences, and (3) to institute a category of Honorary Membership. Furthermore, Bob Owens and David Walker announced plans for an Annual Bunyan Symposium to be convened conjointly by the Universities of Bedfordshire and Northumbria. Those who have seen the magnificent (and imminent) edition of The Recorder prepared by Nathalie Collé-Bak were able to give her the warmest praise and thanks, while others wait in eager anticipation!

Owner David Blakeman with Committee members Bob Owens, David Walker and Nathalie Collé-Bak

Owner David Blakeman with Committee members Bob Owens, David Walker and Nathalie Collé-Bak

The IJBS Harlington day was a truly memorable event, combining historical interest, research, Society business and true companionship. We hope to hold another one of these before too long! We would all like to thank David Blakeman and his family most warmly, for welcoming us to a house of such very great significance to Bunyanists, Bob Owens, for devising the magnificent programme, and the members of the IJBS who were willing to contribute in this way to the life of our Society.

Anne Page, Aix-Marseille Université

Baptist Church House

image

 

This is an impressive picture taken on 13 May 2014 outside Baptist Church House on Southampton Row, kindly passed on by Jane Giscombe and Alan Argent (Dr Williams’s Library) to Bunyan lovers, and reproduced here with their permission.

You can see closer photographs of Bunyan statue by Richard Garbe on the Victorian Web page, and visit English Heritage for the building. 

First performance of new work based on The Pilgrim’s Progress

Cliff Falling by Simon Rackham

Cliff Falling by Simon Rackham

‘On Sunday 23rd March 2014, members of Bedford School, Bedford Girls’ School and Pilgrim’s Pre-Preparatory School will be joining forces with professional vocal ensemble VOCES8 and the Phoenix Orchestra to present the first performance of a specially commissioned work ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ composed and directed by Harvey Brough.

The work was commissioned with generous support from the Bedford School Trust; with a specially written libretto by James Runcie, it re-tells the classic allegorical story of Bunyan’s hero ‘Christian’ as he makes his journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City’

The first performance of ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ will take place on Sunday 23rd March 2014 at 7.30pm in the Great Hall, Bedford School. Tickets, priced £8 (£4 students) are available from the Bedford School Music Box Office Tel : 01234 362254, Email : rielden@bedfordschool.org.uk

For more information download the leaflet here .