The Powys Society Conference 2021

Due to covid-19, our conference will be replaced by two Zoom events:

Our annual conference scheduled for 13–15 August 2021 will regrettably not take place as a residential weekend. It seems certain that, even following widespread roll-out of the covid-19 vaccine, social distancing and mask wearing will remain a requirement for indoor events (assuming large group meetings are permitted), and this makes impossible any meaningful convivial interaction.

Saturday 14 August 2021 — Discussion of JCP’s novel The Brazen Head

This event will be HELD ONLINE by ZOOM at 15:00 BST (Max 1.5 HOURS to 16:30).
  • If any member wishes to join the Zoom discussion, please e-mail Kevin Taylor at ksjer.taylor@btinternet.com. Kevin will be hosting the meeting and will send you joining details in due course.

The Brazen Head CoverThe Brazen Head, set in the thirteenth century, features the priest scientist Roger Bacon (1220-1292) and his invention of an oracular metallic head. The novel has a large cast of eccentric characters and combines history and theology wIth fantasy. According to our past President Glen Cavaliero the novel is “the most robust of all the author's novels...It is possessed of mental rather than imaginative energy, and is something of a conversation piece. It is the most Peacockian of his novels...its world is typical of Powys's last period being earthy, speculative and genial in tone...The Brazen Head has a far more flexible and lively style than the more famous novels preceding it..” 

Here are familiar Powysian themes and images - magic wonders, alchemy, magnetism, sense emanations, thought eidola, demonic spirits, a Druidic stone circle, giants, good and evil powers, love and sexual energy. This novel had specific personal significance for JCP for he imagines the medieval world of thirteenth century Wessex (Bacon was born in Ilchester just a few miles from Montacute) and has one chapter entitled The Cerne Giant. In 1955 in a letter to his friend Nicholas Ross JCP spelled out the autobiographical meaning of the novel: “my romance begins and ends in the year of the Devil 1272. Just 600 years before at 6 A.M. in Shirley, Derbyshire. Charles Francis Powys and Mary Cowper Powys had their first-born child. My romance centres round far the most important figure of the Middle Ages, namely ROGER BACON who succeeded in doing what no other human being has ever done before or since. That is to say Friar Roger Bacon, who was infinitely greater than Francis Bacon,[and who] imitated God and created a living soul!

Sunday 15 August 2020 — Powys Society AGM

TO BE HELD ONLINE by ZOOM 15:00 BST (Max 1 HOUR to 16:00)

The Annual General Meeting will be convened as a Zoom video meeting, for those who wish to join by that method. All paid up members of the Powys Society are welcome to participate in the AGM.

  • If any member wishes to join the AGM, please e-mail Kevin Taylor at ksjer.taylor@btinternet.com. Kevin will be hosting the meeting and will send you joining details in due course.

AGENDA to follow!

We long to return to our much loved conference venue

Glastonbury is surrounded by four hills with potent mythological and legendary associations. St. Edmund’s Hill, Chalice Hill, Wirral Hill and the Tor all feature prominently in A Glastonbury Romance and can all be easily reached from our conference venue. St. Edmund’s Hill may once have been a prehistoric solar or lunar observatory but is now covered by a modern housing estate. In a key passage in A Glastonbury Romance Mr Evans sits on a heap of turnips in Edmund Hill Lane and obtains knowledge of the double natured First Cause. Chalice Hill overlooks the mythical burial place of the Holy Grail. As we discovered during previous conferences in Street, Wirral Hill offers visitors an excellent vantage point for a view of Glastonbury, the Abbey ruins, the Tor, the Somerset levels, and the surrounding landscape of Insula Pomorum. But the Holy Thorn on Wirral Hill, which John Crow in A Glastonbury Romance thinks is ‘the queerest dead tree I’ve ever seen’ has now been removed leaving only a remnant of its damaged trunk. The Tor however remains a safe haven for an abundance of flora and fauna including butterflies, wildflowers, skylarks, swallows, swifts, badgers, rabbits and foxes and also offers panoramic views of the Avalonian landscape.

Chris Thomas, Hon Secretary

Our Conference Organisers: Anna Rosic (l) and Louise de Bruin (r)
look forward to seeing you in 2022!

anna pawelko & louise de bruin (powys conference organisers)