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Thomas Traherne Conference

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Thomas Traherne Conference

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'He is Rising - He Wants to be Found!'

On Saturday 12th March over one hundred people gathered at St Mary with St Alban, Teddington and St Mary's University, Twickenham to celebrate the life and legacy of Thomas Traherne (1637 - 1674). The English seer and Anglican Divine was born in Hereford during the English Civil War, educated at Oxford during the Protectorate of Cromwell and died in Teddington under the Restoration of King Charles II. In the talks and addresses of the day that began with a remarkable address by the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, we heard of the remarkable fact that Traherne's extraordinary writings had lain hidden until the first two documents were rediscovered on a London second-hand book barrow in the late 19th Century. Since then pages and books have turned up in the most unlikely places. As Dr Chartres put it, 'He is rising -he wants to be found'. The consequent lectures and seminars of the day only confirmed this fact. Dr Denise Inge (University of Worcester), one of the foremost Traherne scholars working in the UK today, told the audience how as recently as 2005 new manuscripts had been discovered as well as giving the stories of how many more have been recovered - one being retrieved from a bonfire! Not surprisingly academic interest in the documents is high and many alert and attentive PhD scholars were present who are presently pursuing studies on this fascinating scholar, theologian and poet. Contemporary scholars Professor Mary Grey (St Mary's) and Dr Patrick Moore (Sarum College) teased out the remarkable contemporary relevance of Traherne's writings, especially in relation to the rediscovery of 'green theology' and the new re-evaluation of the place of science and religion in the contemporary world. As Dr Chartres said in his opening address, 'Traherne allows us to recover a way of being that is going to help us to survive in the 21st Century'. The day concluded with a wonderfully evocative performance of Gerald Finzi's (1901-1956) translucent setting of Traherne's 'Dies Natalis', the concert being preceded by an illuminating account of Traherne and Finzi by Professor Cedric Brown (Reading University). The young tenor, Andrew Dickinson, sang his heart out as he intoned the mystic visions of some of Traherne's greatest verses. With his final evocation 'From dust I rise and out of nothing now awake' we were reminded of Dr Chartres' opening words of the day and that Traherne's spirit has now returned at perhaps the time that humanity most needs to hear again his message of peace and reconciliation with ourselves and the earth. The event was jointly sponsored by St Mary with St Alban parish, Teddington and the Centre for Initiatives in Spirituality and Reconciliation (InSpiRe) at St Mary's University. Podcasts and texts of the talks and the evening concert are available at St Mary with St Albans.


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Conferences and events team
020 8240 4000