I write regarding The Stedham Exhibition of Philosophy & Brains Trust Evening (April 7 2013) - to mark the 60th Anniversary of South Downs philosopher CEM Joad (1891-1953)
Waking up to a beautiful spring morning at Spring Cottage, on the first Sunday in April, I had a good feeling about the day.
The ‘icing on the cake’ for this 60th Anniversary celebration was to hear that the Joad Archive Collection - on full display within Stedham’s Memorial Hall on Sunday April 7 - was to have a ‘permanent home’ within the soon-to-be-opened new Arundel Museum. Chris and Mary Clarke of South Stoke are to be especially thanked for this; their hamlet nestling by the Castle was the venue for the 50th Anniversary in 2003, and ‘unofficial home’ of the Joad Collection till now.
The Exhibition started well with the midday arrival of CEMJ’s grand-daughter Ruth. Her attendance added that sense of living presence of a man who made Stedham his final home.
A steady flow of people from near and far perused the life and work of this ill-remembered near-forgotten South Downs Philosopher.
Tea and refreshments - and other facilities - were generously provided at regular intervals by Bruce Middleton of the South Downs National Park Authority and several very kind ladies of the parish.
By mid-afternoon nearly twenty people had arrived for the “ramblette” -
a short walk along the river (which included Joad’s former home ‘Meadow Hills’), kindly led by Sue Payne. Several extra details were added by local residents who shared the history of their unique village.
Choral Evensong was led by The Rev’d Roger Williamson, who based his sermon
on CEMJ’s last book “Recovery of Belief - A Restatement of Christian Philosophy”.
Rev Roger then deftly ‘changed hats’ to act as Question Master for the Brains Trust Evening.
The six panellists (including Deputy Lieutenant of West Sussex Dr John Godfrey and Arundel’s Sandra Saer) answered the searching questions with enthusiasm, wit and touches of profound wisdom.
Judging by the reaction of those present by the end of the day, it had indeed been a good day.
If CEMJ was looking down from above, celestial pleasure might well have shone more brightly last Sunday.
Richard W Symonds
The Joad Society
Lavington Close, Ifield