Sue Young Histories

Wellesley Tudor Pole 1884 – 1968

May 11, 2010

Major Wellesley Tudor Pole OBE 1884 – 1968 was a spiritualist and early British Baha’í, Wellesley Tudor Pole was a close friend of Walter Johannes Stein, and together they interested Winston Churchill and even King George VI, in Wellesley Tudor Pole’s brilliant notion of what became known as the Big Ben Silent Minute during the second war.

Wellesley and Katherine Tudor Pole were friends of John Arthur Goodchild, Winifred Ada Bax,

Wellesley Tudor Pole was profoundly psychic, and in 1917 when he was seriously wounded in Jerusalem, he reflected deeply on a comment made the night before by a comrade, who told him that he would not survive this war, but that he would be waiting, with others like him, on the ‘other side’ to help in a greater and more tragic conflict that would arise after the 1914-18 war.

His friend asked him to ’lend us a moment of (time) each day, and through your silence give us our opportunity. The power of silence is greater than you know‘.

Wellesley Tudor Pole knew Glastonbury well and had been visiting the area for some years, and he was aware that something special was about to happen there.

Wellesley and his sister Katherine knew Janet Bevill Allen and Christine Allen, and it was Katherine Tudor Pole, together with Janet Bevill Allen and Christine Allen who discovered the Glastonbury Cup in Bride’s Well in 1906 (after Wellesley instructed Katherine to remove the cup which Janet Bevill Allen and Christine Allen had discovered hidden there).

Wellesley Tudor Pole received the Glastonbury Cup from John Arthur Goodchild in 1906,

Wellesley Tudor Pole was the son of Thomas Tudor Pole, and he was born and raised at Egrove Farm near Williton in Somerset. Thomas Tudor Pole married his cousin Kate Wansborough and moved to Bristol, where they had five children, Mary, Dorothy (who died in childhood from scarlet fever), Katherine, Wellesley and Alexander.

The name Tudor was added to the family name on Thomas’ marriage to Kate, as her great grandfather, the Squire of a Pembrokeshire village claimed direct descent from the Welsh rebel Owen Tudor.

Thomas Tudor Pole was an advocate of the Fabian Society, Garden Cities and Theosophy, and he was in touch with some of the leading ‘new thinkers’ of his day, and raising his children in an atmosphere of respect for all religious expression, and the whole family were engaged in spiritualism

In 1908, Tudor Pole’s parents, Thomas and Kate, moved to ‘Tudor Cottage’, 33 Field Lane, Letchworth (the garden city close to St Albans). In 1922, Arthur and Sarah Jane (Jennie) Firth (the mother of Dion Fortune - Violet Mary Firth) moved just round the corner to number 4 Homesgarth, Letchworth.

If they ever stopped for a chat they must have found quite a bit to talk about. For instance, the Tudor Poles would occasionally hold what they called ‘Family Group’ meetings in which Mary, one of Wellesley’s sisters, would get into conscious communication with ‘A.B.’ a departed friend and ‘F.G.’, the ‘Family Guide’. These meetings started back in 1916 and continued into the 1920’s.

The Firths seemed to have got up to very similar things, Dion Fortune

  • Violet Mary Firth doing trance work to help with her parents’ projects (‘world welfare work’ on Christian Science lines). However, note the word ‘trance’. Here we have another piece of asymmetrical symmetry.

Wellesley Tudor Pole never used trance, nor did his sister Mary. However, he did feel he had definite contacts in the Beyond… By 1906 Tudor Pole felt he was in contact with a being he would call ‘The Sage’ and derived from this source a perspective on Glastonbury.

It was, he understood, one of three crucial sites, along with Iona and a Western Isle (later – 1930 – identified as Devenish in Lough Erne). These three locations were the heart centres of England, Scotland and Ireland, and each was linked to head centres (London, Edinburgh and Dublin).

Wellesley wrote ’My approach… is a mystical and not an occult approach… my thought turns to prayer and meditation… and not to any ceremonial ritual or invocation’.

Even as a small child, Wellesley experienced psychic phenomena and was widely teased at school for this.

The family moved to Weston Super Mare, where Wellesley and Alex were born. Wellesley was sent to Blundell’s school in Devon and hated every minute of it. His older sister Mary was an ardent antivivisectionist, and Katharine seemed set on a career in music. Wellesley left school and joined the family grain business, Chamberlain, Pole and Co.

At age 18, Wellesley dreamt of Glastonbury and began to travel to the area, returning as often as he could, and making contact with people with similar interests to his own. He met John Arthur Goodchild, and became determined to find a ‘triad of maidens’ to help him search for a holy relic.

In 1904, he took Katherine to Glastonbury, and shortly afterwards, he met Katherine’s friends Janet Bevill Allen and Christine Allen. Wellesley knew he had found his ‘triad of maidens’.

Wellesley’s ‘triad of maidens’ were more than happy to participate in the discovery of the Glastonbury Cup.

In 1910, Wellesley visited Egypt and met Abdu’l Baha Abbas, the leader of the Baha’i Faith, who visited Bristol in 1911, and at the Clifton Oratory, held the Glastonbury Cup in his hands for a long time, saying nothing. Abdu’l Baha Abbas made another visit to the Clifton Oratory in 1913.

Wellesley met Abdu’l Baha Abbas many times over many years, specifically in Palestine in 1918 when Wellesly was able to pull enough military strings to protect Abdu’l Baha Abbas’s home against the occupying Turks.

In 1911, Wellseley’s father Thomas died, and in 1912, Wellesley married Francis Snelling, who had suffered terribly doing work for the poor, and had lost a lung. By 1921, Wellesley and Florence had three children, Jean, Christopher and David, and the family moved many times during these years.

Between the two World Wars, Wellesley looked after the Glastonbury Cup, and from time to time, his ‘Quest Group’ embarked on excavations or lines of enquiry to ascertain the origin of this vessel.

Wellesley kept his psychic life well separated from his professional and business life, though like his father Thomas, the children were carefully raised to respect all faiths. Wellesley was concerned for the future of the environment, the need to farm organically, and the dangers of nuclear energy.

In 1926, Wellesley founded the Appeal for the Russian Clergy Church, and remained its Honorary Treasurer until 1937.

In June 1940, Wellesley wrote a secret memorandum, The Fifth and Sixth Columns, expressing the idea that physical fifth columns of spies might actually be augmented by ‘sixth columns’ of spiritual infiltrators:

This is no ordinary War, to be judged and fought on the principles of the historic conflicts of the past. This war is Armageddon, or to use a common phrase, a totalitarian struggle waged not only by the force of Arms on earth, but carried on in full intensity within the spirits, minds and hearts of people everywhere, soldiers and civilians alike.

‘It is a stupendous and almost universal wrestling match to the death between the forces of darkness and the Power of Light – between the demons and God, both sides working through human channels.

‘Our adversaries are possessed by the full potency of the spiritual powers of darkness and are using and being used by them. On our side we have not yet put on the full armour of God.’

It is hardly surprising that Wellesley Tudor Pole knew Walter Johannes Stein! Both of them must have worked for British Intelligence during WWII.

In September 1940, Wellesley and Walter Johannes Stein contacted Winston Churchill to instigate the Big Ben Silent Minute, and Hugh Carlton Greene, the Director of the BBC readily agreed to this suggestion.

Wellesley was responsible for the ‘rescue’ of the land and buildings at Chalice Well in Glastonbury, and for the establishment of the Chalice Well Trust which maintains the visitors gardens and the right of visitors to take away the iron laden waters of the well.

The Glastonbury Cup stayed with Wellesley until his death in 1968,

Born in 1884, at 20 years old Wellesley Tudor Pole became managing director of the family firm involved in marketing grains and cereals and also became involved in adventures to find the Holy Grail.

He pursued investigations in the Middle East. On a visit to Constantinople prior to the Young Turk Revolution in 1908 he heard of Abdu’l Baha Abbas head of the Baha’i Faith and met and interviewed him over 9 days in late November of 1910 in Cairo and Alexandria. For the next several decades he was active in the Baha’í Faith as well as other interests.

When Abdu’l Baha Abbas traveled to the West, Tudor Pole spoke the English translation of his first talk on the evening of 10 September 1911.

In 1912 he married Florence Snelling, with whom he has three children over the next nine years.

During World War I Tudor Pole served in the Directorate of Military Intelligence in the Middle East and was directly involved in addressing the concerns raised by the Ottoman threats against Abdu’l Baha Abbas which ultimately required General Allenby altering his plans for the prosecution of the war in the Palestine theatre.

After the War, Tudor Pole began his writing career with Private Dowding which dealt with a soldier and his afterlife, and instituted The Silent Minute (in collaboration with Winston Churchill) which united the British people each evening at 9 p.m. at the chiming of Big Ben on the radio.

Then came The Lamplighter Movement. These led to the Remembrance Day observance.

In 1921, while Tudor Pole was Secretary of the Local Spiritual Assembly in London, the telegram announcing the passing of Abdu’l Baha Abbas by his sister, Bahíyyih Khánum, arrived at Tudor Pole’s home in London and it was there read by Shoghi Effendi.

In 1922 he began a long association with a project aimed at relieving the oppression the Bolsheviks on religionists in Russia. (See also Bahá’í Faith in Turkmenistan.)

Returning to his searches through the Middle East, Tudor Pole aided in the modern day identification of the site of the ancient Boukoleon Palace, also known as the House of Justinian.

Following Shoghi Effendi’s leadership of the Baha’í Faith, and the change in style and priorities of the leadership of the religion, Tudor Pole could not leave behind his spiritualist involvements and his involvement in the religion ebbed.

In 1959 Tudor Pole founded a group preserving the Chalice Well and Bride’s Mound of Glastonbury, England.

Tudor Pole especially wrote several books investigating spiritualist approaches to faith and the meaning of the times until his passing in 1968 and works relating to him continued to be published after his death.

Wellesley Tudor Pole wrote many books during his lifetime,

Of interest:

Alexander Tudor Pole - 196?, brother of Wellesley Tudor Pole, worked abroad for many years, laying cables under the sea for telephone and telegraph communication, and working for Marconi, he directed the building and instillation of radio stations all over the World.

Alex nearly died from smallpox in Mexico, recovering well due to his healthy, vegetarian, non smoking, teetotal lifestyle. Alexander Tudor Pole was a lifelong Theosophist and occultist.