Cromwell’s Religion: A Study Day, 3rd October 2015

Religious division was one of the key factors that dominated the 17th century and the driving force behind Oliver Cromwell’s extraordinary ascent to his role as Lord Protector. The subject is huge and has many different aspects – and the potential to be a subject worthy of a life-times study.

The Cromwell Association exists to further study of Cromwell and to promote a wider understanding of ‘God’s Englishman’ and his legacy. It is an educational charity and publishes an annual journal as well as promoting events and activities that further the overall aims.

The Association, in partnership with the Dissenting Experience Project, has organised a study day to look at different aspects of Cromwell’s religion. The programme, aimed at a non-academic audience, will comprise four papers by specialists in the field. They range from an examination of Cromwell’s relationship with the Presbyterians to the role of Quakers in the Protectorate. The day will be chaired by Professor John Morrill.

The study day is open to all and will take place at The City Temple, Holborn Viaduct, London, on Saturday 3rd October. The fee for the day, including a light buffet lunch, is £45.00.

For further details, and on-line booking, see www.olivercromwell.org/whats_new.htm

  • The full programme for the day is available on-line at the link above
  • The Association organises an annual study day, recent previous subjects have been Cromwell and the Army, Cromwell’s early life, Richard Cromwell. Papers are normally published in the annual journal Cromwelliana. Sample copies available on request.
  • The Association was established in 1937. It also organises an annual service of commemoration by the statue of Cromwell at Westminster on 3rd September, the anniversary of Cromwell’s death.
  • Images available on request
  • For further details of the event and, or, the Association, please contact John Goldsmith, jrgoldsmith@talktalk.net

IJBS Regional Day Conference, Bedford

Over forty people attended a highly successful Regional Day Conference of the International John Bunyan Society held on 10 April 2015 in the new Gateway building at the Bedford Campus of the University of Bedfordshire.

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The subject of the conference was ‘Representing Dissent in the Long Eighteenth Century’, and it was organised by Professor Bob Owens (University of Bedfordshire) in collaboration with Professor David Walker (Northumbria University). Speakers included (in the order in which they spoke): Professor Anne Dunan-Page (Aix-Marseille Université), Jenna Townend (PhD student, Loughborough University), Ed Legon (PhD student, University College London), Professor David Walker (Northumbria University), Dr Alan Argent (Dr Williams’s Library), Dr Nicholas Seager (Keele University), Professor Jeffrey Hopes (Université d’Orleans), and Dr Tessa Whitehouse (Queen Mary University of London). Among the audience were academics from over a dozen universities in the UK and France, together with students and members of the public from the local area.

IJBS BED CONF 3 IMGP0809 wroThis event was the first in what David and Bob hope will become a regular series of Regional Day Conferences, to be held alternately in Bedford and Newcastle. As Bob remarked in his introduction, it was appropriate that the inaugural conference should be held in Bedford, since it is the Mecca for all scholars of Bunyan and the Dissenting tradition! The theme of the conference was how Dissenters in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries represented themselves and were represented by others during a long period in which they suffered oppression and discrimination because of their refusal to accept that the state had the right to dictate how and where they should worship God.

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Protestant Dissenters were of course a small minority in English society, making up less than ten per cent of the population. They were eventually granted a measure of religious liberty under the Toleration Act of 1689, but it was not until well into the nineteenth century that they were granted equal rights with members of the Church of England in civil matters.

IJBS BED CONF 7 IMGP7860 wroTopics discussed by speakers included how Dissenting congregations kept ‘church books’ where they recorded details of the life and activities of the community; the ways in which Dissenters attempted to defend themselves against accusations of ‘disloyalty’ to the state, given their participation in the upheavals of the English Revolution; how, following the granting of toleration they began to establish organisations and libraries to support the work of Dissenting ministers; how leading Dissenters like Daniel Defoe took part in public debates on matters of national political concern and sought to influence opinion; and how Dissenting women used poetry and other forms of writing as a means of self-representation.

IJBS BED CONF 1 IMGP0780 wroIt was evident from the enthusiasm of participants and the high level of discussion throughout the day that delegates found the papers lively, accessible and interesting. At a time when the rights and freedoms of different religious minorities are under threat in many countries, the topic of this conference could hardly have been more pressing or relevant.

IJBS day-conference: Representing Dissent in the Long Eighteenth Century

“Representing Dissent in the Long Eighteenth Century”

A Regional Day Conference of the IJBS organized by Bob Owens and David Walker in association with the University of Bedfordshire and Northumbria University will take place at the University of Bedfordshire, Bedford Campus, on Friday 10 April 2015.

This conference is open to anyone interested in Bunyan and in the ways in which Dissent and Dissenters were represented during the period from about 1660 through to the early nineteenth century. The term ‘represented’ may be taken to include self-representation and representation by others in various forms of expression and communication, including, for example, literature, art, the theatre, news media, high and popular culture, sermons, and political discourse and propaganda. Please send a title and very brief summary of a 20-minute paper – no later than 1 February 2015 – to: Bob Owens (bob.owens@beds.ac.uk) and David Walker (david5.walker@northumbria.ac.uk).

You can download the flier and the registration details here.

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 proposals for papers and panels will be accepted until 31st May 2015.

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

Anne Page, Aix-Marseille Université

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

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

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

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 .

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.