The ‘Celtic’ dimension of pre-first World War religious discourse in Britain: Wellesley Tudor Pole and the Glastonbury phenomenon

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McNamara, Brendan
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ISASR in association with the Study of Religions, University College Cork.
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This article will explore the contribution made to the construction of discourse around religion outside of mainstream Christianity, at the turn of the twentieth century in Britain, by a Celticist movement as represented by Wellesley Tudor Pole (d.1968) and his connection to the Glastonbury phenomenon. I will detail the interconnectedness of individuals and movements occupying this discursive space and their interest in efforts to verify the authenticity of an artefact which Tudor Pole claimed was once in the possession of Jesus. Engagement with Tudor Pole’s quest to prove the provenance of the artefact, and his contention that a pre-Christian culture had existed in Ireland which had extended itself to Glastonbury and Iona creating the foundation for an authentic Western mystical tradition, is presented as one facet of a broader, contemporary discourse on alternative ideas and philosophies. In conclusion, I will juxtapose Tudor Pole’s fascination with Celtic origins and the approach of leading figures in the ‘Celtic Revival’ in Ireland, suggesting intersections and alterity in the construction of their worldview. The paper forms part of a chapter in a thesis under-preparation which examines the construction of discourse on religion outside of mainstream Christianity at the turn of the twentieth century, and in particular the role played by visiting religious reformers from Asia. The aim is to recover the (mostly forgotten) history of these engagements.
Celticism , Glastonbury , Au delá , Bricoleur
MCNAMARA, B. 2014. The ‘Celtic’ dimension of pre-first World War religious discourse in Britain: Wellesley Tudor Pole and the Glastonbury phenomenon. Journal of the Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions, 1(1), 90-104.
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©2014, The Author(s).