The John Meade Falkner Society

Meetings

Fleet Old Church, 8 May 2001

Exactly 143 years after Meade Falkner was born, the Society held its first meeting at Fleet Old Church – which figures so graphically in his most famous novel, Moonfleet. The occasion was to celebrate the life and achievements of the author and to unveil a small green slate plaque below the previous, much-weathered larger one. Our inscription read:

The above plaque was     
erected in memory of     
      John Meade Falkner          
 1858-1932      
The John Meade Falkner Society            
8 May 2001 

The plaque was unveiled by Kathleen, widow of Tom Falkner, the author's nephew. After the service the party made its way to the Moonfleet Manor Hotel for an excellent buffet lunch.

 

Burford Church, 20 September 2003

The Society's second meeting took place in the town Meade Falkner loved and where his ashes were laid to rest, under the ‘bale tomb' where his younger brother was already buried. We met at Cobb House, thanks to the kindness of members Raymond and Joan Moody. A large collection of Meade Falkner's works, and other books and pamphlets associated with him, were on display.

The Day included visits to St John the Baptist Parish Church, where we were kindly shown round by the Friends of the Church, the town itself and Burford Priory. We “rediscovered” the commemorative stone under which Evelyn. Meade Falkner's wife, was buried and learned much about his generosity over the years to the church itself.

The Divinity House, Durham 16 May 2009

The Society's third meeting took place in Durham, centred on Palace Green and the Cathedral. We met outside the famous North Door and, on our way to the Library, stopped to read the memorial plaque to Meade Falkner in the South Cloister. The Librarian not only showed us around the wonderful Library but had put on a special display of Meade Falkner's medals, books and other related items.

We then assembled in the Prior's Hall, to hear two excellent talks by Dr. Ken Warren and Christopher Hawtree. After a break for lunch, we reconvened outside Meade Falkner's home for 33 years – The Divinity House on Palace Green – prior to a short walk to St. Oswald's churchyard to view the grave of John Bacchus Dykes, the famous hymn writer. After Evensong, our Argentinean member, Giselle Panero, presented her superb embroidered copy of Meade Falkner's memorial to the Canon Librarian.

Dorset History Centre, Dorchester 9th July 2011

Our fourth Society meeting was based at the Wessex Royale Hotel, Dorchester, where old acquaintances were renewed and new ones made. On the Friday evening, Northumberland chatted to Hampshire, Belfast to Durham, Oxfordshire to Yorkshire, and Argentina to New York.

Other members joined us on Saturday for the visit to the Dorset History Centre, where we were able to study Anne Falkner’s childhood memories of Dorchester in the 1860s-1870s, as well as JMF’s accounts of a similar period and the period 1871-80, when the family moved to Weymouth.

We then visited Dorchester Museum, to view the fine collection of Anne Falkner’s paintings and the small display on Moonfleet.

Then it was on to Buckland Ripers and Fleet churches, both with Falkner associations, and a walk down to the Chesil Lagoon. In the evening, back at the hotel, we had a fascinating talk by Philip Weller and watched excerpts from the Fritz :Lang and BBC versions of Moonfleet.

On Sunday 10 th July, some of us tracked down the Dorchester home of Falkner, and visited other sites of interest.

 

The Bull at Burford July 2013

Our fifth Society meeting meant a return to one of John Meade Falkner’s favourite towns (and where his ashes are buried) – Burford. We based ourselves at The Bull’s Head, now known as The Bull at Burford. Perhaps on the hottest weekend of the year so far, we congregated first of all in the churchyard and, after visiting Falkner’s last resting place, spent the evening at the hotel renewing old friendships and starting new ones.

Saturday was very hot indeed and tourist-packed Oxford was not really the place to be. However, there were two highlights to be savoured: a meeting with Chris Fletcher (Keeper of Special Collections) at the Bodleian to peruse JMF’s letters to Canon Christopher Wordsworth and his topographical notebooks; and a lunch at the East Gate Hotel with John Whiteley, child star of the Fritz Lang 1955 movie Moonfleet. We also visited Hertford College and saw JMF’s name plate above a choir stall. In the evening, we were privileged to hear a talk by Ken Warren on ‘Belief, work and war: some paradoxes in the life of John Meade Falkner”, in the Guild Chapel of Burford Church.

On Sunday, some of the group made the short journey to Minster Lovell, to explore the lovely church and Old Hall by the river Windrush. So ended another excellent Society weekend. We look forward to 2015 and a return to the North East.

Jesmond Dene , Newcastle July 2015

Our sixth Society meeting was based at the Premier Inn, Cramlington Moor Farm, north of Newcastle upon Tyne. Our twelve strong party renewed friendships and soon met up with five members of the Noble family at Jesmond Dene House – now an hotel but once a Noble family home. The same Friday evening we explored Jesmond Dene itself, with its ruined Banqueting Hall.

Saturday saw us all on a grand tour of a countryside well-known and loved by Falkner. We started at Rothbury, with visits to the Armstrong graveyard and the church, stopping for refreshments in a marquee in the church grounds. We then moved on to view Cartington House and Castle; Lorbottle Hall and walled garden (where we were kindly provided with refreshments by Amanda); Wooperton Hall; Chillingham Church and Castle; rounding off the day with a visit to Old Bewick Church, where Wilfrid and Yseult Cochrane are buried. The day ended with another memorable talk by Ken Warren on the Northumberland of JMF.

Sunday saw several members departing for home; but others visited the National Trust property of Cragside, once the home of Lord Armstrong. George Robson is to be thoroughly commended for his hard work in preparing such a fulfilling weekend, with valuable support from Roger Norris and Ray Ion.

 

 

 

 

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