The poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath are the focus of a one-day Poetry Festival  at the Unitarian Chapel in Padiham, Lancashire, on Saturday 9th June.   There’ll be two illustrated lectures, as well as Readings, followed by a workshop for learning, creativity and fun, all under the title ‘Life into Art’. 

The event will celebrate the poetic achievement of these two great 20th Century writers, against the background of their turbulent personal relationship.  This year marks the 20th anniversary of the death of the former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, and the 55th year since the suicide of Sylvia Plath.

Both poets are connected to West Riding area of Yorkshire (the Calder Valley) – Ted Hughes was born in Mytholmroyd, while American-born Sylvia Plath lies buried in the graveyard at Heptonstall.

Rev Jim Corrigall said his Chapel was delighted to be hosting this fourth annual poetry festival for 2018.  “It’s a one-day event this year, but we have retained two powerful speakers, who are both poets themselves.   They are Theresa Sowerby (speaking on Plath) and Edmund Prestwich (on Hughes), and both are long-standing teachers of English -- at Bolton School and Manchester Grammar.”   

The Festival begins at 11.30 am, and finishes at 4 pm.   A lunch of hot soup, bread and cheese is included in the ticket price of £10.  Tickets can be obtained by sending a stamped, addressed envelope to Rev Jim Corrigall (with £10 cheque made out to him), c/o the Chapel address below.   Tickets will also be available on the door, on the day (from 11 am). 

The Festival takes place at: The Unitarian Chapel, Church Street, Padiham, near Burnley, Lancashire BB12 8JH.   Starts 11.30 am sharp. 

Several videos of special events at Padiham Unitarian Chapel are available to view on the website:

A Joint Multi-Faith Service entitled ‘Sacred Songs of Hope’ on 24th September 2017, with women’s Inter-faith choir Sacred Sounds and Sufi Qawwali singers Shahe Mardan, can be seen in two parts, the first part is here and it continues here

The Poetry Festival of the North on the English War Poets in June 2017, (Part 1).  First lecture by Theresa Sowerby entitled ‘Never Such Innocence’ exploring the impact of the Great War through its poets, particularly Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg.  It can be seen here.

Poetry Festival of the North on English War Poets, June 2017, Second lecture (Part 2) by Rev Jim Corrigall on: ‘Edward Thomas: Nature Poet or War Poet?’ commemorating centenary of the poet’s death at the Front.  It is available here.  

Our Anniversary Service on Sunday 17th April 2016 can be seen here 

A lecture at the first Poetry Festival of the North at Padiham Unitarian Chapel on T.S. Eliot, in June 2015, was recorded at the Unitarian annual conference in Birmingham (in April 2016).  It was, given by the Rev Jim Corrigall (with readings by Rev Gillian Peel) on: ‘Religion and Poetry in T.S. Eliot’, focusing on ‘Four Quartets’.  It can be viewed here:    

Readers & Speakers
Pictured: Festival readers and speakers after the second night (from left): Gillian Peel, Jim Corrigall, Theresa Sowerby and David Rushton. Photo: John Hewerdine.


A festival of English poetry during war-time attracted lively audiences to Padiham Unitarian Chapel (in Lancashire) on the first three Saturdays of June 2017, with numbers averaging around 50 each evening.   This third annual poetry festival at the Padiham Chapel was entitled ‘Edward Thomas and the English War Poets’, and marked the centenary of the death of Edward Thomas at the Front in April 1917. 

In the first lecture (on 3rd June), the poet Theresa Sowerby explored First World War poetry, particularly that of Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg, against the wider culture of the time.   She was supported by readings from David Rushton. 

Then on 10th June, Rev Jim Corrigall, minister at Padiham, concentrated on Edward Thomas, asking whether he is best described as a nature poet or war poet, with support from Rev Gillian Peel as reader.    Finally (17th June), the poet Edmund Prestwich examined the brutally-honest writings of the Second World War poet Keith Douglas, who was killed in the Normandy landings at the early age of 24.  

Lively discussion followed the lectures.   Several audience members said afterwards they’d greatly enjoyed the festival, which they described as ‘brilliant’.   The Festival was organised by the Lancashire Collaborative Ministry.

Jim Corrigall

Service leaders Rauf Bashir and Rev Jim Corrigall in  Padiham Unitarian Chapel.     Photo: John Hewerdine 

A vibrant multi-faith service attracted 200 people to Padiham Unitarian Chapel in Lancashire on Sunday 24th September 2017, for an extraordinary celebration of music and songs from around the world.

The large congregation joined in as an inter-faith women’s choir, Sacred Sounds, led songs from many traditions, including Jewish (in Hebrew), Christian (Gospel), Hindu and Muslim, and from Celtic spirituality.

They were followed by the Shahe Mardan group, who introduced a form of Sufi Muslim devotional singing known as Qawwali.  This combines South Asian musical instruments, including drums, with haunting devotional songs of great power.

Sufi Qawwali musicians from the group Shahe Mardan begin their devotional singing.     Photo: John Hewerdine.

The service was introduced with prayers and readings from Sacred Scripture (the Bible and the Qur’an) by the organisers, the Unitarian Minister Rev Jim Corrigall, and Rauf Bashir of the Free Spiritual Centre in Pendle.
In a short address, Jim Corrigall said while those taking part were from different traditions, it was vital that people of faith joined in celebrating what they had in common, above all the core teaching of all faiths, that “love and peace should rule our hearts and our societies”.   “In this spirit, we raise our songs of joy and hope to God,” he said.

Rauf Bashir said the essence of Sufism is about striving for nearness to God – and music represents a key pathway for this.   He explained about different types of Sufi music and songs -- which express “the longing to be closer to God”.

Rauf Bashir concluded: “Just as the rain and the sun do not differentiate between peoples, neither should we.   Only when you experience friendship across cultures, do you understand that there are good people in all communities.  God showers unlimited love and mercy on us all, if we choose to receive it.”