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Archangels and Archaeology

J.S.M. Ward’s Kingdom of the Wise

Geoffrey Ginn teaches modern British history and heritage studies in the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics at the University of Queensland, Australia. A member of the Board of the Queensland Museum, his research interests encompass cultural and urban history in British and colonial settings.

A spiritualist, mystic, historian and lifelong collector of antiquities, J. S. M. Ward (1885–1949) embodied the cultural turmoil of an age of collapsing empires, religious fragmentation and world war. The Abbey Folk Park he started in 1934 at New Barnet, north of London, was an innovative history museum where Ward’s interest in esoteric heritage, world cultures and the occult attracted much attention. Unfairly disgraced in a sensational court case in May 1945, he and his followers departed England for Cyprus in self-imposed exile, along with his stunning collection of artefacts.

After Ward’s death, both the community and his collection moved to Queensland, Australia, where a new Abbey Museum now thrives just north of Brisbane.

Archangels & Archaeology traces John Ward’s extraordinary life and career for the first time, from Edwardian Freemasonry and wartime spiritualism to his apocalyptic visions as a second world war threatened to engulf Europe. His lively museum fused a passion for Britain’s disappearing heritage with a conviction that western civilization would shortly collapse. These vivid concerns – so often treated in isolation – come together in J. S. M. Ward’s curious and eccentric life story.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-492-5
Hardback Price: £50.00 / $65.00
Release Date: March 2012
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-493-2
Paperback Price: £22.50 / $34.95
Release Date: October 2012
Page Extent / Format: 224 pp. / 229 x 152 mmm
Illustrated: No


List of Illustrations

1 Recollecting the Child
2 History, Marriage and the Afterlife
3 To the East
4 Gone West
5 Opening the Guarded Door
6 Explorations in the Craft
7 Kingdom of the Wise
8 An Ark for England
9 A Walk in the Folk Park
10 Anglican Outcasts and Orthodox Catholicism
11 Wartime Trials
12 Cyprus and Beyond Notes


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