Introduction to the festival

The basic proposal, at this early stage and following the inaugural meeting of a group of interested parishioners, is for a festival to celebrate Kingsley’s life and work through talks, activities and exhibitions. This to be held in Eversley during the week that marks 200 years since his birth

Charles Kingsley (CK) enjoyed an intense life of enormous scope, including his authorship of influential children’s books, theological debate (famously with Cardinal Newman), professorship at Cambridge,  reform of worker’s living conditions; the list goes on.

For us living in Eversley,   we hold a  particular interest in his life arising from the shared experienced of living in the same  village and the common appreciation of the countryside and buildings; as well as  benefiting from his legacy with the primary school he founded and worshipping at St. Mary’s where he was rector . All this contributes to the special involvement we have with him which will be manifested in the Festival plans we are embarking on

Peter Ormrod
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The Charles Kingsley 200 Festival,  June 2019, Eversley

Charles Kingsley was born on 12th June 1819, the same year as Queen Victoria. He was the Rector of Eversley from 1844 until his death in 1875. Before the Welfare State the care of an English country Parish depended to a large extent on the character of the Rector and Kingsley was unique in his passion for the physical and spiritual welfare of his Eversley and Bramshill parishioners. He is remembered locally in the name the Charles Kingsley Primary School in Eversley which he founded in 1853, long before 1870 when free education was introduced at national level. (In Kingsley’s day the pupils were charged 2 pennies a week).

He was a man of abounding energy and enthusiasms, but with many contradictions and prejudices. From boyhood botany and wild life fascinated him, and he remained an expert on this all his life. He was the author of at least 19 books including the most famous of them, ‘The Water Babies’ based on the life of a child chimney sweep whom he knew personally as an adult. He was Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge from 1861 to 1869 and supported the ideas put forward by Darwin as to the origin of species. He travelled extensively, lecturing in the United States, where he and Rose Kingsley, his eldest daughter, also a botanical authority, picked up the seed for the Californian redwood which now grows in St. Mary’s Church in Eversley. He was tutor to the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. He was a Cannon at Chester Cathedral, where he preached, and also held talks on botany and wild life for which extra trains had to be laid on for the people coming to listen. Later he was made of Canon of Westminster Abbey. He was active and interested in the problems of public health at a time when cholera, typhoid and typhus were still widespread, and ideas about the importance of hygiene were non-existent.

He married Frances Grenfell and their love for each other and their children was an intense affair, directly associated in his mind with Divine love in an unusually direct and passionate way.

A Festival will be held in June 2019 to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of Charles Kingsley’s birth and we would like ideas and contacts to celebrate the birth and life of this truly remarkable man. Visit the website:

The Charles Kingsley 200th.