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In the quiet Somerset Village of Spaxton four miles from the busy little river port of Bridgewater during the second half of the 19th century lived the 'Holy Ghost' surrounded by his 'soul brides' and accompanied by a 'Devil child'. They lived at the Abode of Love, a collection of houses & cottages with its own chapel surrounded by a 12ft high wall and guarded by ferocious bloodhounds. Set up in 1846 the remarkably successful Agapemone is the prototype of the 20th century cult complete with sex scandals, accusations of brainwashing, dramatic rescues of members by their families, moral outrage from respectable society and virulent attacks in the popular press.
Inside the Agapemone Chapel Brief text, along with photographs of the Agapemone Chapel, which is being restored by a couple of private individuals and their family.
Abode of Love: Growing Up in a Messianic Cult by Kate Barlow. Book review
Blame It on the Vicar!: Holy Appropriate Tales of Old Somerset by Roger Evans. Includes a look at Agapemone
The Reverend Prince and his Abode of Love by Charles Mander
Abode of Love [mp3] Issue of The Spirit of Things, broadcast by ABC Radio National (Australia), on Jan. 3, 2010. Rachael Kohn interviews Kate Barlow (see below). Includes transcript.
Cults come and go, and so is the case with Agapemone, founded by a couple of renegade Anglican clergymen who claimed the title of the Returned Christ, and set about establishing Heaven on Earth. In an 1856 pamphlet, the first founder, Henry J. Prince, claimed that the flesh would be liberated from sin and made perfect in this world rather than having to wait until the next. To achieve 'flesh made perfect', however, all he needed was to experience sexual union with a virgin; by this act, he would complete man's salvation and reconciliation with God! I think we've heard that before!
This is the story of Agapemone, which was making the news during the time Charles Dickens was writing satirical depictions of religious enthusiasms. Kate Barlow grew up in the cult that by her time had become a collection of old ladies and three young girls, Kate Barlow and her two older sisters.
Growing up within a religious cult BBC Radio 4 interview with Kate Barlow, Author of The Abode of Love: Growing Up in A Messianic Cult. Broadcast April 4, 2006. Direct audio link (RealMedia). Time: 7 min:09 sec.
Kate Barlow grew up within a religious cult in a quiet Somerset village. Originally founded in the 19th century by a charismatic priest, the Agapemone, which is Greek for 'abode of love' gained notoriety when Kate's grandfather, who then led the community, claimed to be Jesus Christ. Jenni talks to Kate about her secretive childhood.
Bygone Spaxton Include a number of photos of the Agapemone property, then and now, along with Agapemonites.
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