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Carthusians

Guy Thackrah

(Text as at 24/08/2007 20:29:46)


Dom Guy Thackrah was the then Prior, rather a patrician gentleman in his mid seventies, I presumed, and (I subsequently learned) a former partner in an international law firm (I found this from "Maguire (Nancy) - An Infinity of Little Hours: Five Young Men and Their Trial of Faith in the Western World's Most Austere Monastic Order" having been tipped off by a correspondent1). I think his background wasn’t well understood amongst the community. I’d got the impression he’d been a parliamentary undersecretary, or something like that . He was also extremely large - 6'7" and 20 stone, or thereabouts. He was renowned for once having broken a chair by alighting on it too heavily. I didn't speak to him much, so can't judge of his spiritual qualities, thought they were presumably not negligible or he wouldn't have been elected prior.

I had to assist him at Mass (presumably this was for my benefit), and was somewhat alarmed when he performed his prostrations - for all I knew, some large and aging person who suddenly collapses on the floor might just have died. However, after an anxious wait on my part, he eventually got up and continued with his devotions in a more routine manner. The Carthusian way of life is very regular, but their routines take a bit of getting used to. I shouldn’t have been too surprised, as we all performed prostrations in our choir stalls during the consecration at Mass

My other memory of Dom Guy, presumably from the Walk, was of him telling me an account of a bus journey he once undertook since becoming a Carthusian. Carthusians travel wearing their normal monastic habits (which I think it that of 11th century French shepherds) , which makes them look rather odd. Dom Guy must have looked even more unusual, given his size. I presume he was on his way to the Grande Chartreuse in France for the General Chapter – the monks never leave the monastery otherwise, except to visit the doctor or dentist, or for the weekly walk.

Anyway, some small boy came up to him and asked if he was a wizard. Dom Guy replied that he wasn’t, but that he spent all day praising God. He didn’t say what the boy made of this.




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