1000 Years of Poetry and the Contemplative Tradition

Little Gidding

England 2023: Overview

Please join me on this pilgrimage which begins in July 2023. Find all the details at the following link:


The adventure begins in London on the site where Chaucer’s pilgrims set out in 1390. Next comes Canterbury, with its Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey, and its legacy of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket. From here we move to Norwich Cathedral and the tiny St Julian’s Church. The focal point of our pilgrimage is Little Gidding, made famous by T.S Eliot, home to a small, Anglican community in 1626 as a sanctuary in an age of religious turmoil. We also visit the stunning Salisbury Cathedral, home to Britain’s tallest spire. From there we travel to Tintern Abbey, via the small village of East Coker where T.S. Eliot’s ashes are interred. There will also be an opportunity to engage with Wordsworth’s quest for stillness and its links with monastic practices and the sacredness of nature. The climax of our pilgrimage occurs at St Bueno’s College set in rural North Wales. This is where Gerard M. Hopkins wrote his greatest poetry. Via Stratford, Shakespeare’s birthplace we return to London, and will view the art works in Tate Britain and the National Gallery that inform the poets we have studied.

Tour Host

Michael Griffith has been teaching English, Australian and American Literature at Universities since the 1970s. He began at Sydney University and has recently retired as Associate Professor at Australian Catholic University. His deepest interest is in the way that literature and the arts can deepen an understanding and experience of the sacred. His PhD (1981) was on the Australian poet Francis Webb within the context of mid twentieth century culture. This was published by Harper Collins in 1991 as God’s Fool, The Life and Poetry of Francis Webb (still available on-line).

He was awarded a Teaching Excellence Award in 2016, a Vice-Chancellor’s Staff Excellence Award in 2017 under the category of Mission Excellence; in 2017 he was also awarded an ACU Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning. Michael has for decades been the lead organizer of many international conferences on the Sacred in Literature and the Arts. His most recent conference held,  before COVID, in Sydney in October 2019, was entitled “Sacred Silence in Literature and the Arts” with Fr Laurence Freeman OSB as keynote speaker. Michael has also been a regular tour leader for students completing The Literature and Drama of New York.

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