Padiham Unitarian Chapel successfully-hosted a ‘TS Eliot Festival of the North’ in June 2015, in celebration of this great Unitarian-born poet, to mark the 50th anniversary year of his death. Events were held on the first three Saturday evenings of June, and drew large, appreciative audiences (around 55 people attended each of the first two evenings).
The Festival began on June 6th with a captivating lecture from the President of the TS Eliot Society, Graham Fawcett, who considered the range and quality of Eliot’s achievement; it was illustrated with readings from ‘The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock’, ‘The Waste Land’, ‘Ash-Wednesday’, and ‘Four Quartets’.
The following Saturday, the Minister at Padiham Unitarian Chapel, the Rev Jim Corrigall, focused on the four poems that make up ‘Four Quartets’ – widely-regarded as Eliot’s finest achievement – in a lecture entitled ‘Religion and Poetry in TS Eliot’. He was well-supported by Mavis Duerden and the Rev Gillian Peel, who read extracts from the poems, and by the music of the Beethoven string quartet that inspired the poet to write this masterpiece.
A reading of the acclaimed verse biography of Eliot, ‘A Love and its Sounding’, by poet Christopher Southgate, formed the final evening. The verse biography was read by Christopher and Sandy Southgate, accompanied by the music of Bach. Christopher then led a short discussion on Eliot as contemplative poet.
The Festival was organised by the new Lancashire Collaborative Ministry and its Minister, the Rev Jim Corrigall (who is also Minister at Padiham and Rawtenstall Unitarian Chapels).