Monthly Talk 5th April 2018


SPEAKER: Jeremy Key Pugh

It took less than half-a-decade to destroy what had been the largest single religious, economic and social pillar of English society. The Dissolution of the Monasteries in the second half of the 1530s was ruthless, even vicious; it was inspired by greed alone; and it left an indelible mark on the landscape of the nation.

The ruins of Hailes, Tintern, Rievaulx and Glastonbury remain to bear witness to the desolation wrought by Henry VIII"s commissioners; but what of the Abbeys and Priories which had stood, not in the uninhabited wilds, but in urban centres of population, such as Bath? Some were obliterated altogether, as happened at Coventry - a curiously apposite contrast to Bath; yet Bath Abbey survived. How come? What was the mixture of plot and plan, serendipitous luck and sheer chance that saved this monastic church from the destruction visited on so many of its counterparts?

This lecture will trace the story of the transformation from Catholic private Benedictine chapel to Anglican public parish church and try to answer those questions about the most turbulent half-century in the Abbey"s history.


Jeremy Key-Pugh joined the Abbey choir in 1974 when he came to the city to teach French and German at Kingswood School. He soon became embroiled in the governance of the church - forty years on the Parochial Church Council, twenty-five as its vice-chairman; six years as churchwarden; and after singing to congregations for over twenty years, he was licensed as a Reader (lay minister) and began to preach to them. He is also Lay Chairman of Bath Deanery Synod and a member of the Bath & Wells Diocesan Synod, and served for fifteen years on the Bishop"s Council and for ten on Wells Cathedral Council.

Since his retirement from teaching in 2005, he has had time to indulge his interest in the history of the Abbey. Though as a modern linguist he has had no formal training in historiography, he is fascinated by the story of the relationship between the Abbey and community of Bath, and hugely enjoys the research that furthering his interest involves.