Renchi Bicknell, my first cousin, just sent me this sketch he did of a bench in the ruins of the Abbey in Glastonbury, his home town, in Somerset, England. The bench is inscribed to “Memories of happy family times here – Robert Bicknell (1928-2006) and Mollie Bicknell (1925-2010)“. Do you know who they were, and are you related to them?
Glastonbury is also the source of the extraordinary story of John Arthur Goodchild (1851–1914), a physician, and later author of several works of poetry and mysticism, most famously The Light of the West.
In February 1885, while visiting Bordighera, Italy (home of Clarence Bicknell at the time), Goodchild bought a “bowl and a platter” seen in a tailor’s shop. They lay untouched in a cupboard for ten years. Ten years later he felt “directed” by an intense psychic experience to take the “bowl” or “cup” to Bride’s Hill, Glastonbury, Somerset, a place he had never previously visited. Arriving in August 1898 he concealed the “Cup” in a pond or sluice beside a thorn tree near the River Brue. This place was reputedly known as the Women’s Quarter, Beckery, and according to legend was linked to St Bride. Then, he waited for the future discovery of the cup “by women” as had appeared to him in a vision. He continued to visit the site every year from 1899 until 1906, except the year 1905.
The cup was then found and became the focus of a Christian group, including Goodchild and Wellesley Tudor Pole, based in Bristol, who believed the vessel to have formerly belonged to Jesus. The object is reported to now be in the possession of the Chalice Well Trust, based in Glastonbury. Goodchild had a private medical practice in Bordighera, Italy, serving mainly expatriate Britons. From 1873 until the early 1900s he stayed in Italy during summers and returned to the UK in winters.