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.

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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.

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

Richard L. Greaves Prize: 2016 Committee

The Executive Committee of the IJBS is delighted to announce that the selection Committee of the 2016 Richard L. Greaves Prize has been appointed (see corresponding page on this website). The jury will examine works published between 2013 and 2015 and present the Prize at the 2016 8th Triennial conference in Aix-en-Provence (France).

You can download the Prize’s regulations and procedures here.

Chairman

N. H. Keeble is Professor of English Studies at the University of Stirling. His research interests lie in English cultural history of the period 1500-1700, in particular: (i) the Puritan tradition (Baxter, Bunyan, Cromwell, Fox, Marvell, Milton); (ii) prose (fictional and non-fictional); (iii) the Civil War and English Revolution; (iv) constructions of woman and writing by women; (v) the Restoration; (v) early modern print culture. His publications include Richard Baxter: Puritan Man of Letters (1982), The Literary Culture of Nonconformity in later seventeenth-century England (1987), The Restoration: England in the 1660s (2002). He has edited John Bunyan, Conventicle and Parnassus (1988) and John Bunyan: Reading Dissenting Writing (2003), as well as The Pilgrim’s Progress in the Oxford World’s Classics (1998). He is currently leading a team preparing a scholarly edition of Reliquiae Baxterianae for Oxford University Press. More about Neil Keeble on his institutional website, http://rms.stir.ac.uk/converis-stirling/person/11778.

Judges

Ann Hughes is from February 2014 Senior Research Fellow and Professor Emerita at Keele University, where she was Professor of Early Modern History between 1995 and 2014. She specialises in the history of early modern England with particular interests in the culture, religion and politics of the English civil war or English Revolution. In recent years she has worked on religious debate and polemic, print culture, gender and radicalism. Her publications include Gangraena and the Struggle for the English Revolution (2004), Gender and the English Revolution (2011) and, edited with Thomas Corns and David Loewenstein, The Complete Works of Gerrard Winstanley (2009). Her work has benefited from the influence of literary scholars and she is committed to inter-disciplinary approaches. Current projects include a book on preaching during the Revolution, and work on financial accounts and memorialisation during the civil war.More about Ann Hugues on her institutional website,      http://www.keele.ac.uk/hss/facultycontacts/annhughes/.

Cynthia Wall is Professor and Chair of the Department of English at the University of Virginia and a specialist of Restoration and eighteenth-century literature. She is the author of The Literary and Cultural Spaces of Restoration London (1998) and The Prose of Things (2006) and we owe her the Norton Edition of The Pilgrim’s Progress (2008). She has edited The Concise Companion to the Restoration and the Eighteenth Century (Blackwell, 2005) and Eighteenth-Century Genre and Culture: Serious Reflections on Occasional Forms (2001, with Dennis Todd), as well as the Penguin Edition of A Journal of the Plague Year (2003). Her Norton Critical Edition of Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Drama is forthcoming in 2014. More about Cynthia Wall on her institutional website, http://www.engl.virginia.edu/people/cw5p.

Nathalie Collé-Bak as new editor of The Recorder

This November has seen a change in the IJBS’s Executive Committee. Our long-standing editor of The Recorder, Chris Garrett, has decided to step down after two terms on the IJBS’s board, and Nathalie Collé-Bak (Université de Lorraine, France) has agreed to replace him. A very warm welcome to Nathalie, and our deepest thanks to Chris for looking so well after our newsletter, a vital link between the IJBS and its members throughout the world. Nathalie will edit her first Recorder next spring (2014), and we wish her the very best in her new task.

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May I take this opportunity to remind all our members that they have premium access to The Recorder as soon as it  is published. The latest issue is then made available to all on this site with a six-month delay.

All enquiries/submissions to The Recorder should now be forwarded to the address especially created for editorial correspondence: IJBSrecordereditor@yahoo.com.

Anne Page, Aix-Marseille Université, November 2013

Pilgrim’s Progress begins 100-part list of best novels

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The Pilgrim’s Progress begins The Observer‘s 100-part list of best novels written in English. Robert Mc Crum explains his enduring popularity: “The Pilgrim’s Progress is the ultimate English classic, a book that has been continuously in print, from its first publication to the present day, in an extraordinary number of editions.

There’s no book in English, apart from the Bible, to equal Bunyan’s masterpiece for the range of its readership, or its influence on writers as diverse as William Thackeray, Charlotte Bronte, Mark Twain, CS Lewis, John Steinbeck and even Enid Blyton”.

View the complete article on The Observer’s website: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/sep/23/100-best-novels-pilgrims-progress

Harlington Manor

Capture d’écran 2013-11-18 à 15.15.01Harlington Manor (previously Harlington House) is arguably the last standing domestic building where John Bunyan is known to have been. Bunyan was interrogated there, probably in the Hall or the great parlour, after his arrest at Lower Samsell (Bedfordshire) in November 1660, by the magistrate who had issued the warrant, Sir Francis Wingate. Tradition has it that Bunyan might have spent the night after his interrogation in a room in Harlington House that was still known as ‘Bunyan’s cell’ in the nineteenth century, but there is no mention of this in Bunyan’s own account of his interrogation. Wingate was joined in the interrogation by the vicar of the nearby Harlington parish Church, William Lindall, who was referred to by Bunyan as ‘an old enemy to the truth’. Ironically, Wingate’s eldest son, also named Francis, married Lady Anne Annesley, the fourth daughter of Arthur Annesley, first earl of Anglesey, and cousin to Samuel Annesley, the Presbyterian minister. When Francis died in 1690, Anne might have shown sympathies towards the Nonconformists and three of their children, Frances, Anna Letitia and Rachel, became members of Bunyan’s former congregation in Bedford. Anna Letitia became the second wife of John Jennings, the tutor of the Dissenting Academy at Kibworth Harcourt (Leicestershire), where Philip Doddridge studied. We’d be glad to hear from any member of the Society who has more information about the episode of Bunyan’s arrest and interrogation at Harlington.

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 Harlington Manor is now in private hands, and its owners provide accommodation and tours for the public. If you happen to be in Bedfordshire, it is well worth a visit, http://harlingtonmanor.com.

room67Further reading: John Bunyan, A Relation of my Imprisonment, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, ed. Roger Sharrock (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1962); John Brown, John Bunyan (1628-1688): His Life, Times, and Work, tercentenary ed., rev. by Frank Mott Harrison (London, Glasgow, Birmingham: The Hulbert Publishing Company, 1928), p. 125-150; Beth Lynch, John Bunyan and the Language of Conviction (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2004), p. 23-33; Richard Greaves’s Glimpses of Glory: John Bunyan and English Dissent (Stanford University Press, 2002), p. 130-145; Clergy of England Database, http://theclergydatabase.org.uk, Dissenting Academy Online, http://www.english.qmul.ac.uk/drwilliams/portal.html; David L. Wykes, ‘Jennings, John (1687/8–1723)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/14759, accessed 18 Nov 2013]; Newton E. Key, ‘Annesley, Samuel (bap. 1620, d. 1696)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2013 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/566, accessed 18 Nov 2013]. Of related interest: Harlington Church, http://www.harlingtonchurch.org.uk

The IJBS at Dr Williams’s Library

If you happen to be in London on Saturday 9 November 2013, join us for a one-day conference on dissenting experience, co-convened by Michael Davies, Anne Dunan-Page, and Joel Halcomb, in partnership with the Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies. There are distinguished members of IJBS among the speakers (Michael Davies, N. H. Keeble and Kathleen Lynch), and acting Secretary Bob Owens and UK treasurer David Walker will also be in attendance; check the accompanying blog for further details http://dissent.hypotheses.org, and download the full programme here.

© Trustees of Dr Williams's Library

© Trustees of Dr Williams’s Library

Michael Davies (scroll down for a presentation of his forthcoming edition of the Bedford Church Book) will be talking about the Bunyan Church in a paper entitled  ‘Life after Bunyan: Ebenezer Chandler and the Pastorship of the Bedford congregation’. There will be three of these conferences (2013, 2014, 2015), each on a different theme, and we hope that they will also serve as stepping stones to the IJBS 2016 triennial gathering.