Waldensian Review No 126 Summer 2015 - Page 14

Peter Meadows – a brief personal recollection In September 1989 I went to Oxford to write a book on Emile Durkheim, the late nineteenth century French sociologist. The only place I could find to stay was 2, Canterbury Road, a recently established ecumenical residence, under the directorship of Canon Donald Allchin, alas now deceased. I had known him on and off for several years. In the course of a very early conversation I told Donald that I thought I was the only person in England who had an interest in the Vaudois of the southern French Alps. He challenged the idea from a somewhat indirect angle, for in the room very close to mine there was a young scholar who had a strong interest in the Waldensians located on the other side of the Alps, in the Valleys South of Turin with their headquarter in Torre Pellice. The Vaudois –Waldensians in English, Valdesi in Italian- originated from a Middle Age religious movement from the area of Lyons and suffered heavy persecution at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church. They joined the Protestant churches of their countries at the time of the Reformation. The Vaudois of France were only relieved from persecution with the coming of the French Revolution and the Waldensians in Savoy were emancipated in mid-nineteenth century. Fame came to the Vaudois on account of their totally isolated village, Dormillouse, of some 900 inhabitants, who never succumbed to the Roman Church, even though they were forced to build a RC church there.* Peter’s interest in the Waldensians arose by reason of his greater interest in his academic study of architecture of the early nineteenth century. One such architect was Ignatius Bonomi who designed the original drawings, later modified, for the Waldensian churches built in Torre Pellice, Turin and Genoa, through the work of Canon W S Gilly and General Beckwith of the Waldensian Church Missions. My own interest in the Vaudois in contrast to Peter’s, was in work I was undertaking in a sociological approach to persecution. I found it remarkable that he and I should have adjoining rooms and sharing an interest in subjects so little known in the British Isles. Our interchange of ideas did not last long. Peter was, at the time of meeting, librarian at Pusey House. As a strongly minded Protestant within the Anglican Church, he found the atmosphere of Pusey House far from his liking. When we met he was in the course of applying to the library of the University of Cambridge where he was to become archivist, and later archivist of Ely Cathedral. His days in Cambridge seemed to be those of fulfilment and contentment, not least by being in the choir of Great St. Mary’s and acting as lay reader. From what I knew of him he appeared to be a quiet, reserved person, as fond of cycling as he was of his work. That he died on Good Friday is not without its significance. Bill Pickering *W.S.F. Pickering, 1995. What the British found when they discovered the French Vaudois in the nineteenth century, available from our website. 12