Past Events Archive: 2024

Saturday 20 April 2024 — A meeting to discuss Chapter XI, Consummation, of JCP’s novel A Glastonbury Romance, led by Dawn Collins.

Southlake Moor in winter, taken from Burrow Mump, (c) Patrick Mackie
Venue: The Old Fire Engine House, 25 St Mary’s Street, Ely.
11.00 to 16.00 (with break for lunch)

All are welcome. The event is free with the exception of lunch which is optional and may be taken in the restaurant at the venue. A contribution towards the cost of refreshments is voluntary.
If members wish to attend please notify Hon Secretary by 31 March 2024.

JCP began writing his Glastonbury book on 20 April 1930. By 30 October 1930 he had reached Chapter XI. He wrote in his diary: “It is at Whitelake Cottage I am now describing a momentous day in the lives of Sam and Nell.” In this beautiful and atmospheric chapter of AGR, JCP explores the passionate relationship between Sam Dekker and Nell Zoyland. John Brebner notes that Chapter XI is “an amazing combination of sensitivity and honesty in its handling of the lovers’ relationship.” However, Sam’s state of mind is conflicted – he physically desires Nell yet he also longs to be a saint: “I will be a lover and a saint! his heart cried.” The chapter also includes rapturous descriptions of the connection between JCP’s characters and the landscape surrounding them: “He was conscious of a vague feeling of fertility in the damp spring air and of the hidden stirrings of vegetable juices in roots and stalks as his feet sank in the soft turf of the river bank”. JCP goes on to describe how Sam identifies with the vital presence of elemental things: “He became a wave in the Bristol Channel, a bracken frond in the Quantock hills, a crystal in a Mendip stone wall, a black striped perch in the Brue under Pomparles bridge…an identical magnetism poured through the man’s flesh and blood and shivered through the vegetable fibres of the tree.”


Chris Thomas