On Sunday afternoon, Reverend Cunningham took pupils to Little Gidding for a reading of the poem by T.S. Eliot. In the intimacy of the candle-lit St John’s Church, the reading of the poem’s five sections was paused for a performance by the Julian Quartet of each of the four movements from Beethoven’s Opus 135. Eliot had been inspired by one of Beethoven’s late quartets and wrote that he would like “to get something of that into verse” before he died. Four years later he began Four Quartets. The pairing of poetry and music added layered meaning to the experience.

The Oundle pupils were invited to the event by the organiser, Nicholas Sagovsky (B 1966), who also delivered the reading. Among the invited guests was Nicholas Jardine (Sch 1965). They had been very good friends when pupils at Oundle, and after many years they were reunited at Little Gidding.

Little Gidding has been a place of both spiritual and literary interest for centuries. In 1625 Nicholas Ferrar and his family formed an Anglican community on the lines of a medieval religious fraternity. The poet George Herbert was a frequent guest, and Charles I visited on two or three occasions, the final time seeking refuge in 1646. Eliot visited in 1936 and drew wider public attention to the chapel after his publication of Little Gidding in 1942 as the last part of Four Quartets.