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 June 2, 2024

An Angel for Ivor - Press Release from John Morrish

John Morrish is in contact with the Diocese of Gloucester to acquire St Matthew's Church, Twigforth, to turn it into a sancturary in honour of Ivor Gurney, and is working on a business plan to present to the Diocese by 30 June 2024. Below is his press release.

His contact details are:  John Morrish 077 88 515 387 or mail@johnmorrish.com.

'In the Autumn of 1917, a young composer and poet called Ivor Gurney was gassed in
Flanders, while fighting as a private in the Gloucestershire regiment, and sent home. He had
not long left the Royal College of Music, acclaimed as a genius on a par with Schubert or
Mozart.
Already emotionally troubled and inclined to nocturnal wanderings, he suffered worse
confusion. After a brief return to musical life, he was placed in a lunatic asylum in Kent,
where he remained for the last 15 years of his life, continuing to write and compose. He
never returned to Gloucestershire. In 1937, a few friends had him buried in the Churchyard
of St Matthew’s, Twigworth, just outside Gloucester. Since then his reputation has grown.
For the past two years, the Diocese of Gloucester has been trying unsuccessfully to sell the
church, a pretty but frail 19th-century structure whose spire is a local landmark.
I hope to acquire the unwanted building and turn it into permanent place of sanctuary and
inspiration that will:
a) Honour the memory of Ivor Gurney as composer, poet, casualty of war and lover of
landscape;
b) Challenge the prevailing belief that mental disturbance and disability are dangerous,
disabling and incurable;
c) Provide hope and comfort to those who struggle with the modern world,;
d) Share musical, literary, practical and emotional pleasures and skills.
More ‘henge’ or sculpture than building, ‘Severn Meadows’ (named after a song of 1917)
will honour a man who wanted to live in nature, rather than indoors. He ended his life in an
institution; this will not be one. I’m hoping to hold a competition for a design concept, open
to professionals, amateurs and schoolchildren. The graveyard, beloved of the local
travelling folk, will be maintained and respected.
I met the Archdeacon on 30 May to discuss the project. She will need to be
sufficiently reassured to pause the disposal and let me turn my vision into a plan.
I have some money but do not intend this to be a private folly. Nor am I seeking
Government, Charitable or Corporate funds. After reconstruction I believe we will be able to
support the minimal running costs by artistic and practical projects inspired by Gurney.
Before that, though, I hope to find the equivalent of a theatrical ‘angel’, willing to advance a
sum of money and trusting that it will be returned: an altruistic gesture and a cultural
investment in Gloucestershire and its people rather than a commercial gamble. The ‘angel’
will not be required to take part in the management of the project.
I am eager to speak to anyone who might like to help. I am a writer and editor with 45 years
of experience. I have trained journalists and edited music books. I have experience in
catering and entertainment. I now write and perform stories, poetry and music. An angel is
central to the plot of my Cotswolds novel, Consequences. I am a veteran of the psychiatric
system, having suffered a breakdown at 19 and lived with the consequences until recently.'

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