The Dartington Solar Quest is an interesting example of the Dartington effect in action. Started by Bill Elmhirst and his second wife Vera Strachen it is an example of the way in which aspects of alternative culture began to manifest in ways which were beyond the Trust’s control. Below is a short extract about Solar Quest
I would be interested in anyone’s recollections of Solar Quest, particularly if anyone can confirm that George Trevelyan was a visitor.
The Dartington Solar Quest initiative was initiated on the basis of channelling, the ability to receive messages from spirits or non-physical entities, that of Vera Strachen, the second wife of William Elmhirst whom he married in 1972. Vera purportedly had the ability to channel messages from a number of ‘Masters’ including Joseph of Arimathea, the uncle of Jesus Christ. In January 1972 Solar Quest began a monthly publication that was sent free to subscribers and contained messages from the Masters and other teachings. That year the Dartington Trust also conveyed the Staverton Bridge Farm to Dartington Solar Quest which became the physical base for the operation. The Dartington Solar Quest Centre opened as a healing centre to thepublic in June 1974. Over the following years it would offer regular mass healings, open discussions about the nature of its work and would provide a platform for a range of visiting speakers on new age and spiritual topics. It would also continue to publish books and pamphlets about its work. At a practical level Solar Quest was interested in natural medicines, healing, and meditation. There was also a strong interest in the ‘activation’ of earth energies. Spiritually, it had an evangelical streak which was a mission to end ‘the separation between human and divine realms’ (A Solar Questor, 1982, 7). To this end it offered a set of basic teachings and home courses which formed the basis of ‘a profound and holistic life transformation’ (ibid, 34). It was claimed that the teachings of the Solar Quest had spread to the United States, Nigeria and Central America amongst other places. Therefore Solar Quest became a small node in the emerging new age network of the 1970s.