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Alice Buckton and John ‘Jack’ Cheape – Chalice Well 1914/1916

In her first few years at Chalice Well Alice Buckton was establishing her training school aimed at providing hospitality and education for women and pilgrims. Operating from the large building recently vacated by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart she renamed the building ‘Chalice Well Training College for Women and Pilgrims Hostel’. It allowed for 49 paying guests and had 3,000 books in the library.

After a couple of years the college was not doing well and the emphasis changed towards the work of the hostel: Chalice Well Hostel: simply fitted for pilgrims and travellers.

Board and lodging was 25-35 shillings a week for women and 27-37 shillings a week for men. For 4 shillings a day there could be a bed, breakfast, supper and use of bathroom, refectory, parlour and garden.

In a book published in 1924 by John Watkins of London called ‘A Pilgrim Soldier’ there were letters, poems and essays written by Lieutenant John de Carrich Cheape (1894-1916). This had an introduction by Wellesley Tudor Pole and featured a poem written for Alice at Chalice Well on Midsummer, June 1914.

At Chalice Well

To Chalice Well a pilgrim came

To pray and praise his God by name,

Disquiet to destroy.

His prayer to God was all this thought,

His praise was in the work he wrought,

And, leaving, took up joy.

Writing to Alice Buckton in the year he died, 1916, he said, ‘I have a clear and burning light before my face, which is written within my soul. O try to make my every thought a prayer. And Glastonbury, Chalice Well, and you yourself, Miss Buckton, are never out of my thoughts.’

He called Chalice Well ‘the Blood Well’ and felt strongly he had work to do there but was killed on 3 September 1916 when carrying the stretcher of a wounded man in France.

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