Unitarian Historical Society 2019

The cover of our latest issue of the Transactions which is on its way to all subscribers and which is available to order by new subscribers now:

Cover 2019

You can read more about the contents HERE

The Tercentenary of the Salters’ Hall Debates can be read HERE

The Annual General Meeting of the Society for 2019 will take place at 14.55 on Wednesday 17 April at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole Hotel during the meetings of the General Assembly. This will be followed by a lecture by Dr Rachel Eckersley on ‘Benefactions in the form of books: the development of the Northern Dissenting Academies and their libraries during the 18th and 19th centuries’.

Faith and Freedom

Faith and Freedom was able to report on another successful year at the Ministerial Old Students Association and the Annual Meeting of Friends and Honorary Governors held at Harris Manchester College, Oxford on 18th – 20th June. The meetings also marked the retirement of the Principal, Rev Dr Ralph Waller, now Sir Ralph Waller KBE to whom goes warmest congratulations. It was also pleasing to see Rev Dr Peter Godfrey, our Editor Emeritus at the meetings.

HMCO June 2018 PG NC

Rev Dr Peter Godfrey, Editor Emeritus, and Nigel Clarke, Business Manager, Faith and Freedom

HMCO June 2018 principal

Retiring Principal Sir Ralph Waller, KBE, addresses the Annual Meeting of Friends and Governors

Cover

The cover of the latest issue depicting the inscription at the base of the new religious freedom monument in Torda. ‘No one shall be reviled for his religion by anyone, for faith is the gift of God’. Quotation from the Edict of Torda of 1568 inscribed on the new memorial, ‘Ad Astra’ by Liviu Mocan, unveiled at Torda, Transylvania, Romania on 13th January 2018. 

Mill Hill Chapel Cenotaph, Leeds

Back in June I asked the question on this blog whether the Cenotaph outside the modern Bury Unitarian Church which commemorated members of the three congregations of Chesham, Heywood and Bank Street, Bury, was the only Unitarian Cenotaph:

https://velvethummingbee.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/the-only-unitarian-cenotaph/

Neville Kenyon sent a number of photographs depicting the Cenotaph which are now published on the Faith and Freedom Great War Project site:

http://www.faithandfreedom.org.uk/GWindex.htm

Neville wondered if this was a unique memorial in Unitarian church circles and I did suspect that he might be right. However, we can now be sure that it is not unique. The Rev Jo James has sent me some pictures of the Cenotaph at Mill Hill Chapel, Leeds which stands very prominently in front of his grand gothic church in the city centre. All these pictures will also appear online on the Faith and Freedom Great War Project.

Cenotaph Mill Hill (Photo: Jo James)
Cenotaph Mill Hill (Photo: Jo James)

Jo tells me that the list of names on the Cenotaph is that of those members of Mill Hill who were killed in the First World War. Inside the church a second tablet lists all those who served (although it does not include any of the female members who served in different ways in the war. An interesting account of the war service of Mary Cicely Wicksteed, one of three sisters from the Chapel who saw service in the war, by Ruth Allison, can be seen here: https://pelicanroad.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/mary-cicely-wicksteed-and-jogendra-nath-sen-and-leeds-pals-by-ruth-allison/).

The memorial inside the chapel (Photo: Jo James)
The memorial inside the chapel (Photo: Jo James)

The names on the Cenotaph are listed in order of rank and include their regiment as well as three additional names from the Second World War. Of the names listed Jo points out particularly the names of Lupton, who lost four members of one family, and Hirsch who lost two members in the two world wars. Jo also mentions that the name listed as Private Sen J. Nath is believed to be the only non-white combatant from Yorkshire to die in the First World War, J.N. Sen was a member of the Mill Hill Chapel Choir and may also have been a member of the Brahmo Samaj. More on Private Sen can be read on Dave Stowe’s interesting blog:

https://pelicanroad.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/pte-jogendra-sen-a-leeds-pal-and-son-of-leeds-2/

The Unitarian Cenotaph Leeds (Photo Jo James)
The Unitarian Cenotaph Leeds (Photo Jo James)

The inscription at the foot of the Cenotaph comes from the book of Lamentations – Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? It seems an appropriate quotation when one considers the loss of so many young men such as the four members of the Lupton family. The families of all those men listed on the plaque must have reflected on that passage very often, Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow.

I didn’t know there was a Cenotaph outside Mill Hill Chapel but I had seen one of the names listed on the memorial before. Captain D.P. Hirsch of the Yorkshire Regiment is listed as having been awarded the Victoria Cross. He must have belonged to a fairly staunch Unitarian family because he was educated at Willaston School and his name also appears on that school’s war memorial, an object which was rescued from the school when it closed by the Rev H.J. McLachlan and placed in Harris Manchester College where it can still be seen today:

Willaston School Memorial - now situated in Harris Manchester College, Oxford
Willaston School Memorial – now situated in Harris Manchester College, Oxford

Willaston School only operated from 1900 to 1937 but was a successful small public school that had been set up specifically to educate the children of Unitarian families.

Captain Hirsch’s citation for the VC reads:

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in attack. Having arrived at the first objective, Captain Hirsch, although twice wounded, returned over fire-swept slopes to satisfy himself that the defensive flank was being established. Machine gun fire was so intense that it was necessary for him to be continuously up and down the line encouraging his men to dig and hold the position.

He continued to encourage his men by standing on the parapet and steadying them in the face of machine gun fire and counter-attack until he was killed. His conduct throughout was a magnificent example of the greatest devotion to duty.

 

A brief search online shows that David Philip Hirsch’s letters are now preserved in Leeds University. He was only 20 years old when he was killed. He was a star pupil at Willaston School and became the head boy before winning a scholarship to Worcester College, Oxford. After the war his parents paid for a new swimming pool to be built in the school in his memory. It would be interesting to know if the swimming pool (and the memorial chapel) are still preserved on the site of the former school.

This leads on to another question (or questions) – how many Unitarians were awarded the VC in the First World War? Indeed how many Unitarians have been awarded the VC since it was instituted in 1856?

Captain Philip Hirsch VC
Captain Philip Hirsch VC

Animals and Faith and Freedom

In the latest issue of Faith and Freedom Clair Linzey contributes ‘Animal theology: a view from the periphery’. Clair is the Deputy Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and the article is based on a sermon she delivered in the Chapel of Harris Manchester College. In it she takes her lead from Jesus’s concern for the poor and Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff’s theology of liberation which extends concern for the poor and marginalised to the planet itself and its non-human inhabitants. She makes a case for concern for animal welfare to be moved from the margins of our thought and discourse to a more central place in our consideration for the sake of our own spiritual and personal well-being. It is well worth reading.

Those who attended the Old Students Association at Harris Manchester College in June will also have seen Nigel Clarke’s excellent presentation on the journal over the past twelve months. This included our own modest foray into animal matters with the appointment last year of Billy as the custodian of the Faith and Freedom archive.

Billy and the journals
Billy and the journals

Billy had initially done an excellent job in minding the archive and expressed evident delight at being appointed to such an illustrious role.

All safely gathered in
All safely gathered in

However, in more recent times he seems to have grown bored with this position and hints of dissatisfaction, indolence even, have crept into his demeanour as this candid picture illustrates: Billy02

This has led to calls for the position to be offered to Caspian, the cat. Caspian, however, indicated that he had other things to consider and was not at all minded to be tied down to such a position. His friend Rosie, however, has given it consideration and seems at home in a bookish world.

Rosie01

Time will tell if Rosie will prove suitable for this job. Caspian, however, declined to be photographed for this report and appears only in silhouette. Caspian shadow 01

First editor of ‘Faith and Freedom’ honoured at Harris Manchester College

The Rev Eric Price, the founding editor of Faith and Freedom, was recalled and honoured at Harris Manchester College on Tuesday, 23rd June during the annual meeting of Friends and Governors.
Eric had significant ministries in Bolton and Liverpool, among other places, and was lay secretary of Manchester College for a great many years. In addition he founded and edited Faith and Freedom from its inception in 1947 to the year 1983.

Portarit of Rev Eric Price
Portarit of Rev Eric Price

At the meeting Richard Price, Eric’s son presented a portrait to the College. This had originally been presented to his father by Bank Street Chapel, Bolton and was unveiled in its new location by the Principal, Rev Dr Ralph Waller.

The Principal unveils the portrait in its new location in the library
The Principal unveils the portrait in its new location in the library

While making the presentation, in the course of an amusing speech, Richard Price recalled that he had been involved with Faith and Freedom from the very start, having been drafted in to stick erratum sheets in all 600 copies of the first issue printed! Later, he recalled his mother, when pregnant with his brother, threatening to give birth to twins and call them ‘Faith’ and ‘Freedom’, so all-consuming had the journal become for his father at the time!

Richard Price addresses those present in the library. Emeritus Editor Rev Peter and Sheila Godfrey can be seen in the corner of the shot
Richard Price addresses those present in the library. Emeritus Editor Rev Peter and Sheila Godfrey can be seen in the corner of the shot

Happily both myself and Nigel Clarke were able to be there for the occasion and Nigel took the opportunity to present to Richard a bound copy of the very first issue which his father had signed.

 

Richard Price with Nigel Clarke and David Steers
Richard Price with Nigel Clarke and David Steers