Obituary: Sir George Trevelyan

George Trevelyan was a teacher and public speaker of rare distinction. He thought that ideas literally "come alive" if spoken effectively.

Trevelyan was born into a large family, then owners of the Wallington Estate in Northumbria. In 1925 he went up to Trinity College, Cambridge, to read History (in the family tradition). For a short spell he worked as a furniture craftsman at the Peter Waals workshops in the Cotswolds and later became a History teacher at Gordonstoun School, at that time pioneering radical education methods.

In 1947, Trevelyan was appointed Warden of Attingham Park, the first Adult Education College in Britain. At this time of post-war crisis, he was instructed by his local government appointees simply "to put heart back into the British people". With extraordinary enthusiasm and dedication, he set up adult education courses both during the week and at weekends.

Trevelyan cared passionately for the subjects he taught, which ranged from literature to history, architecture, music, drama and crafts. He included a summer school on the Historic Houses of Great Britain, courses on "Finding the Inner Teacher" and "Holistic Vision", and a series on "Death and Becoming". These proved a great success, attracting international participants.

Trevelyan believed that as an evolving species the time had come for mankind to transcend the prevailing materialist philosophy and embrace a spiritual world view. Any topic that would draw an adequate group of people was "put on" as a course, and whatever the topic, Trevelyan himself almost never missed launching nor ending a course for the 24 years he was there.

On his retirement in 1971, Trevelyan with some friends set up the Wrekin Trust, an educational trust concerned with the spiritual nature of man and the universe. For the next 20 years, with remarkable energy, and ignoring a crippling form of arthritis, he toured the country, setting up courses on hundreds of topics, one of the most important being the annual "Mystics and Scientists" (which continues). Lecture tours grew into pilgrimages to explore Britain and then expanded beyond to include America, South Africa, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and Germany. Through these years he wrote his trilogy, The Aquarian Redemption, comprising A Vision of the Aquarian Age (1977), Operation Redemption (1981) and Exploration into God (1991).

Hundreds of smaller educational groups were born because Trevelyan agreed to come into homes and set them going. Among the movements he helped to inspire are the Lamplighters, Psychosynthesis, the Soil Association, the Findhorn Trust, the Teilhard de Chardin Society, and the Essene Network.

In 1982 he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, often called the "alternative Nobel Peace Prize". He was selected for "educating the adult spirit to a new non-materialistic vision of human nature".

Eventually the Wrekin Trust too came to an end, but Trevelyan continued to give talks. Even as an 80-year-old, he was still able to captivate his audiences, despite a growing frailty and deafness, and continued to fulfil around 100 engagements annually.

Anne MacEwen

George Lowthian Trevelyan, teacher: born 5 November 1906; Principal, Shropshire Adult College 1947-71; succeeded 1958 as fourth Bt; founder and director, the Wrekin Trust 1971-86; married 1940 Helen Lindsay-Smith (died 1994: one adopted daughter); died 9 February 1996.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Disruption at Waterloo after a person was hit by a train
newsCancellations and disrupted service after person hit by train
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The almost deserted Liverpool Echo Arena on Monday
tvCan X Factor last in the face of plummeting numbers auditioning
News
Kirsty Bertarelli is launching a singing career with an album of songs detailing her observations of “real life”
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence