Friends of Little Gidding
Little Gidding church fell into decline during the first half of the 20th century, although people continued to visit. In the summer of 1946 Alan and Enid Maycock and some friends from Cambridge visited the church and found it in a sad state and resolved to form a group of Friends to support the Vicar in his care for the church.
The inaugural meeting was held at Jesus College,
Cambridge, on Wednesday July 31st 1946, in the
rooms of Dr Frederick Brittain. The Bishop of
Ely, Edward Wynn, presided. All of those present
were members or associates of the Oratory of
the Good Shepherd, which had been founded at
Little Gidding in 1913. At this meeting the
Society of the Friends of Little Gidding was
formally inaugurated. The Bishop accepted the
presidency of the society and Canon J.W.P. Jones,
Vicar of Great Gidding, took office as Warden.
T.S. Eliot agreed to be a vice-president: he
was an Honorary Fellow of Magdalene College,
and had made his journey to Little Gidding while
visiting the College in 1936.
Objectives of the
Friends of Little Gidding
(1) to give thanks to Almighty God for the
holy lives and examples of Nicholas Ferrar
who shared his life at Little Gidding
(2) to venerate his memory and to honour those
ideals of Christian family life of which Little
Gidding provided so perfect a pattern
(3) to take a practical and active interest in
the care, upkeep and adornment of the church
of Little Gidding and its precincts
(4) to arrange, as occasion provides, for visits
and pilgrimages to Little Gidding and, in other
ways that may be deemed fitting, to preserve
the sense of Little Gidding as a holy place,
from which the sanctity can never depart.
The following is a summarised schedule of the
work now completed, for which the Friends of
Little Gidding are directly responsible:
(1) The north-east corner of the chancel walls
has been strengthened and made secure by continuing
the underpinning along the east wall and for
feet along the north wall. New brickwork has been inserted, as necessary, both
below and above ground level.
(2) The chancel floor has been taken up and a new floor of Ketton stone put down
in its place. The older floor, with its incongruous colour and glazed finish,
has long been considered unfitting; the new floor restores a proper harmony and
continues the design of the nave.
(3) All ironwork has been cleaned, primed and painted black. The interior woodwork
has been cleaned, repaired and polished; wormholes in certain parts of the panelling
have been treated.
(4) The insciption over the west door way has been repainted on a black ground,
the lettering finished in gold leaf on a sienna ground.The roof really needs
completely renewing and this will cost some £250, of which only about £60
is available from our present funds. It was pointed out that the matter should
obviously be attended to before the winter.....Therefore we appeal urgently to
the generosity of all Friends of Little Gidding for donations towards the provision
of the new roof. It has been a joy and an inspiration to do for the Church what
we have already done; we are assured that the building, with the repairs already
carried out and with the roof re-laid, will be in thoroughly satisfactory structural
Annual report, 1950–1
Membership continues to increase steadily and
is now well past the 200 mark. The quiet, spontaneous
growth of the Society during the five years
of its existence
has been impressive and also encouraging; for we have never sought publicity
or attempted any active canvassing.
On the question of pilgrimages,
we seem to have arrived at the holding of our
in July, an afternoon ceremony beginning with
to the church and ending with evensong.
Nicholas Ferrar and his community are remembered as an example of the family piety espoused by the reformed Church of England in the seventeenth century.
Click image to view larger version
Many Friends are aware that the Church at Little Gidding has become very isolated
now that the farmhouse is empty. It is of great concern to the Warden and his
helpers, none of which live in sight of the Church, and we share his interest
in the newly formed Little Gidding Fellowship of which the Revd Tony Hodgson
At the Annual General Meeting, held
in November, it was agreed that in future, the
annual meeting will be held on the 3rd Wednesday
in November. The annual pilgrimage is held on the
2nd Saturday in July so that the two events will
have a regular date on the calendar.
We are pleased to announce that
the Rt Revd the Lord Bishop of London will be preaching
at Evensong on Saturday, July 10th 1971 and the
Venerable D.F. Page, Archdeacon of Huntingdon,
will lead the Annual Pilgrimage that day.
Friends of Little Gidding may like to know that over the past few
months a Little Gidding Fellowship has been formed with these main
Firstly, to help your Warden with the intercessory work of Little
Secondly, to investigate how the needs of pilgrims and visitors
to Little Gidding may best be served;
Thirdly, to think and pray about the possibility of forming some
kind of community at or near Little Gidding.
Hereafter, Tony and Judith Hodgson
bought the farmhouse and adjoining land and buildings,
and with some others began to restore and rebuild
the properties. Ownership was vested in a charitable
trust. After some years, management of this trust
and the community was taken over by Robert van
de Weyer; the community continued to grow, and
undertook all the care and maintenance of the
Church. This Community of Christ the Sower also
took over the running of the Friends, and communicated
with them by a quarterly newsletter 'Seeds'.
The annual pilgrimages led by the Bishop of Ely,
An essential feature of the link
between the Community and the Friends was the
Prayer Calendar, published quarterly, and sent
along with the newsletter "Seeds" and
a book of daily readings. In this way, one member
of the Community was prayed for every day, and
two members of the Friends, in a continuous rhythm.
no 10 Nov. 1986
This issue of Seeds marks a new phase in the history of the Friends
of Little Gidding - and in the development of the Community of
Christ the Sower.
In the 40 years since the Friends
was founded, much of the original vision has
been realised, thanks largely to your dedication
and your prayers. Interest in Nicholas Ferrar
and the first community has been revitalised,
the church at Little Gidding has been renovated
and is back in regular use, and during the last
few years a new community has grown up which
is once again committed to the Ferrar ideals.
of the Community, 1998
The Community dispersed at the end of 1997, since when the Giddings
PCC has taken up the care and maintenance of the church, and to
hold regular services there,
of Evening Prayer on 5th Sundays when they occur, and a Eucharist
on the morning of the Feast of Nicholas Ferrar on 4th December
The Society of the Friends of Little Gidding was founded in 1946 by Alan Maycock and others in Cambridge for the purpose of helping the Vicar of the parish in the work of caring for and maintaining the church. The poet T.S. Eliot was a Patron: it is his poem in the Four Quartets which has brought many people to this place.
It was in a sad state of neglect at that time, and over the years the Friends brought about a transformation, with many fund-raising campaigns, work-parties, services, and an annual pilgrimage in mid-July led by the Bishops of Ely and other Bishops.
In the early 1970s a community was established at Little Gidding in the former farmhouse, and its attendant buildings. Over time this community took over the practical management of the church from the Friends, and developed their own relationship with its members. After the community dispersed in 1998 this link was lost, and the Friends had very little news of the re-organisations which were taking place under the Little Gidding Trust, which now owned the former community estate.
The Society of the Friends of Little Gidding has been re-founded, is registered with the Charity Commission, and has begun its independent existence. The Little Gidding Trust administers Ferrar House though its Wardens, the Parochial Church Council is responsible for the Church and its services: these three bodies co-operate on many joyful celebrations as well as with the practical tasks of maintenance.
Join the Friends, and the PCC of Little Gidding Church, and the Wardens of Ferrar House in welcoming visitors to this special place.
World Wide Web of Friendship - Become a Friend of Little Gidding
Nicholas Ferrar wrote to advise his cousin Arthur Woodnoth on a matter of business on 10th May 1630, warning him not to interrupt “…that web of friendship which I hope might otherwise prove a pattern in an age that needs patterns”
The Web of Friendship, described by Bernard Blackstone, led him to accompany TS Eliot on his one visit to Little Gidding, and to Eliot writing the poem which has drawn so many others to this place.
The Society of the Friends of Little Gidding
The Charity’s objects are:
(1) the advancement of religion, and in particular:-
(i) to give thanks to almighty God for the holy lives and examples of Nicholas Ferrar and those who shared his life at Little Gidding,
(ii) to venerate his memory and to honour those ideals of Christian family life of which Little Gidding formed so perfect a pattern,
(iii) to take a practical and active interest in the care, upkeep and adornment of the church at Little Gidding and its precincts,
(iv) to arrange, as occasion provides, for visits and pilgrimages to Little Gidding, and in any other ways that may be deemed fitting, to preserve the sense of Little Gidding as a holy place, from which the sanctity can never depart,
(v) to assist and support the provision of accommodation and facilities for pilgrims and other visitors to come to, visit, or stay at Little Gidding.
(2) to advance the education of the public in the life of Nicholas Ferrar at Little Gidding and also the connection of T.S. Eliot with Little Gidding.
The Society of the Friends of Little Gidding
Join the Friends of Little Gidding and connect to this living, historic, dispersed but connected community, through the World Wide Web of the internet.
Contact: Membership Secretary
Friends of Little Gidding
Ferrar House, Little Gidding, PE28 5RJ
Friends of Little Gidding website
Connect to this living, historic, dispersed but connected community, through the World Wide Web of the internet. www.littlegidding.org.uk
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