Skip to content

Former Archbishop Rowan Williams on Causley: 3 events in Launceston, December 2017

Here’s an adapted version of the press release issued about the weekend of events when former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ visited Launceston to mark the end of centenary year of Charles Causley’s birth:

Former Archbishop pays a special visit to Launceston

Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, gave the town of Launceston a memorable weekend during his visit in early December 2017. Invited by the Charles Causley Trust, Dr Williams stayed in Causley’s house, Cyprus Well, now owned by the Trust.

On Saturday morning, 9th December, he could be found in the Library reading Christmas poems from Charles Causley’s book  Bring in the Holly  to groups of young children (and ‘young’ adults). To everyone’s delight, he settled himself on the carpet among children and families to read the ‘Christmas Pudding’ poem, which describes how four icons of Christmas – the Pudding, the Turkey, the Tree and the Cracker – all decide to run away together! Then, with assistance from a team led by local artist Karen Howse, the children made Christmas cards with illustrations inspired by the poems they had listened to. Sponsored by Launceston Rotary Club and supported by Tesco, this event proved popular with children and parents alike.

Visitors were then treated to further readings upstairs in the Library, where a collection of Charles Causley books is held. Between times, Lord Williams had a chance to discuss people’s art and craft created during the morning based on the poems he had read. Library staff were delighted to hear a family recite two poems by heart, and which Lord Williams joined in on, clearly showing how popular Charles Causley’s poems can be.

On the same Saturday evening, a large audience at Launceston Town Hall witnessed a very special event. The Chairman of the Trust, David Fryer, introduced Father Anthony Maggs, a very close friend of Charles Causley. Fr. Maggs spoke warmly of the times they spent together searching out the lesser known parts of Cornwall – particularly the churches, and especially the church of St Hilary. Causley subsequently wrote a moving poem about that church.

The former Bishop of Truro, Bill Ind – ‘Bishop Bill’, to all who know him – introduced his friend Rowan Williams. Archbishop Rowan then spoke about Causley’s poetry and the influence it had on his own writing, as a published poet himself. He spoke of the enigma of Causley’s own faith, which although obviously deep, did not manifest itself through regular church attendance.

On the Sunday morning (10th December), St Thomas Church was packed for the Eucharist service. This was led by the Reverend Teresa Folland, assisted by Bishop Bill and Fr Anthony Maggs, and with a sermon from Rowan Williams. During the service, Dr Williams presented organist Carol Baker with a certificate commemorating 25 years’ service as organist to the Church, as well as rededicating the newly-overhauled organ. Afterwards, a small group visited Charles Causley the churchyard outside, where Dr Williams laid a small wreath and read Causley’s wonderful poem ‘Eden Rock’, which describes a childhood memory, and ends by suggesting his being reunited with his parents at the time of his own death. At this point, somewhat magically, the sun made a rare appearance!

Finally, after a short lunch at the bowling club, Dr Williams set off back to his home in Cambridge – leaving behind a large number of people who had been moved by his warmth, his spirituality and his down-to-earth friendliness.