Vaughan Association Conference 2022

‘Bright shoots of everlastingness’: Poetry, Spirituality and the Natural World


5-8 May 2022, Brecon

We are delighted to announce that the postponed 25th annual Vaughan Colloquium will be taking place in person from 5th– 8th May 2022 in Brecon, Wales, beginning on the afternoon of Thursday 5th May and ending at lunchtime on Sunday 8thMay. This will be a special celebratory conference, deferred by one year, marking the 400th anniversary of the birth of Henry and Thomas Vaughan. The title of the conference is ‘“Bright shoots of everlastingness”: Poetry, Spirituality and the Natural World’, and its focus is ‘the work of the seventeenth-century poets, Henry Vaughan and George Herbert, and the occult philosopher and alchemist, Thomas Vaughan’. The programme is below and you will see that the sessions comprise the familiar mixture of talks, poetry readings and other cultural events, including a poetry reading by Martyn Crucefix. The four plenary speakers are Dr Rowan Williams, Prof Donald Dickson, Dr Holly Faith Nelson and the Rev Canon Mark Oakley. Dr Williams’s lecture will be held in Brecon Cathedral on Friday 6th May at 7.30pm. The conference will also be hosting a concert of music for lute and voice, performed by James Bramley and Emily Owen, on Saturday 7th May at 8pm in the Plough Chapel, Brecon. Both of these evening events are open to the public, and tickets will be available on the door (£10/£7 concessions).

The arrangements for booking your place at the conference are slightly different from in previous years. To let us know that you are coming, please send an email to and pay the conference fee by bank transfer (details below). Those delegates who will require overnight accommodation are asked to make their own arrangements. The Castle of Brecon Hotel, where some of the conference sessions will be taking place, have a number of rooms set aside for conference delegates; to book one of these, please email  and mention that you will be attending the Vaughan conference. There are many other good hotels, guesthouses, B & Bs and self-catering cottages in Brecon and the Usk Valley: for details, please visit

The conference fees are as follows:

Standard delegate (includes talks, concert, tea/coffee, two lunches)             £100

Concessions (= unwaged, student, 60+)   “ “ “                                                    £70

Day tickets – Thursday (afternoon)                                                                     £15/£10

Friday            (full day, including lunch and evening talk)                 £40/£30

Friday (morning or afternoon, without lunch or evening)       £15/£10

Saturday (morning, without lunch)                                              £15/£10

Sunday (morning)                                                                           £15/£10


The details for your bank transfer are:

Account name – The Vaughan Association

Account number – 73729973

Bank sort code – 51-61-28

IBAN – GB13 NWBK 5161 2873 7299 73


Please specify in your email to the Vaughan Association which fees you are paying, and, if you are not attending the whole conference, please let us know which days you will be coming.

We very much look forward to seeing you in Brecon in May. Thank you.


Provisional timetable


Thursday 5th May 2022. Location – Brecon Castle Hotel ballroom


2-3:30 p.m. Session on Vaughan’s Influence:


Jean Ward (1), ‘“Unless ye be as little children”: Elizabeth Jennings Meditates on the Poetry of Henry Vaughan’


Orlando Reade (2), ‘“Bound Each to Each”: How Wordsworth Read his Vaughan’


Mike Williams (3), ‘Painting Poems: Cy Twombly and Silex Scintillans


3:30-4. Tea/coffee


4-5 p.m. Plenary speaker: Holly Nelson, ‘Traversing Time and Space as a Form of Psycho-Spiritual Resilience in the Works of Henry Vaughan and Margaret Cavendish’


5:30-7 p.m. Location – Y Gaer (Brecon town centre): Programme of readings from the Vaughan

twins and George Herbert, hosted by Robert Wilcher, followed by drinks and the launch of Borderlands: The Art and Scholarship of Louise Imogen Guiney, edited by Jonathan Nauman and Holly Faith Nelson


Evening meal – delegates’ choice in Brecon




Friday 6th May 2022. Location – Brecon Cathedral


9:30-11 a.m. Session on Thomas Vaughan:


Clay Greene (4), ‘Eternity, Creation, and Change: Thomas Vaughan and the Doctrine of Preexistence’


Thomas S. Willard (5), ‘The Three Worlds of Thomas Vaughan’


Curtis Runstedler (6), ‘Rebecca the Alchemist: Thomas and Rebecca Vaughan’s Alchemical Secrets Revealed’


11-11:30 a.m. Tea/coffee


11:30-1 p.m. Session:


Jonathan Nauman (7), ‘Humanism and Romanticism in the Usk Valley: Louise Guiney, Paul Elmer More, and Henry Vaughan’


  1. Richard Bowen (8), ‘“I Was Close to Eternity the Other Night”: Faith, Medicine and Meaning in the Poetry of Dannie Abse’


Colleen Wethered (9), ‘The place of Holy Saturday in the landscape of Herbert’s “The Flower” and of Rowan Williams’ “Pantocrator: Daphni”’


1-2 p.m. Sandwich lunch in the Cathedral


2-3 p.m. Poetry reading by Martyn Crucefix


3-4 p.m. Poetry close-reading session (poets and others reacting to selected individual Vaughan poems), hosted by Hilary Davies


Evening meal: free choice in town


7:30-9 p.m. Location – Cathedral. Plenary speaker: The Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams, on ‘Varieties of Absence: Henry Vaughan’s Poetics of Loss’. The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception




Saturday 7th May 2022. Location – Brecon Castle Hotel ballroom


9:30-10:30 a.m. Plenary speaker: Mark Oakley, on George Herbert (title to follow)


10:30-11 a.m. Tea/coffee


11-1 p.m. Session on Herbert and Vaughan:


Matthias Bauer (10), ‘Nature’s Co-Authorship in Henry Vaughan’s Poetry’


Helen Wilcox (11), ‘“After him followed diverse …”: reading the reception of Herbert and Vaughan’


Christopher Hodgkins (12), ‘“Invisible and dim”: The contested self in Herbert’s “Even-song” and Vaughan’s “The Night”’


Joseph Sterrett (13), ‘“I saw eternity the other night”: Metaphysical images of the infinite’


1-2 p.m. Sandwich lunch provided


2-6 p.m. Free afternoon, with a choice of outings: Llansantffraed Church and wreath-laying at

Henry Vaughan’s grave, 3pm, followed by a visit to the Vaughan Garden; for the

adventurous, a walk over Allt yr Esgair (starting from Llansantffraed) led by poet and

novelist, Chris Meredith


Evening meal: free choice in town


8 p.m. Concert by James Bramley and Emily Owen, ‘His lute, his fancy, and his flights’.  £10 (£7 concessions; full conference fees include this ticket) Location – Plough Chapel, Brecon



Sunday 8th May 2022. Location – Castle Hotel ballroom


9:30-11 a.m. Session:


Kate Allan (14), ‘“Strung upon a Vital line”: Henry Vaughan, Katherine Philips, and alchemical sympathy’


Jeremy Hooker (15), ‘The Modern Alchemic Imagination’


Robert Wilcher (16), ‘Henry and Thomas Vaughan: Men ‘of very eccentric characters’


11-11:30 a.m. Tea/coffee


11:30-12:30 p.m. Plenary speaker: Donald Dickson, ‘Henry Vaughan and the Wises of Coleshill’


12:30 p.m. Final word and close of conference


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