Eric Symes Abbott Memorial Lectures

Eric Abbott was Dean of Westminster between 1959 and 1974. Before that, he was Dean at King's College, London (1945–1955), Chaplain to King George VI and HM Queen Elizabeth II, and Warden of Keble College, Oxford.

He died in 1983 and was buried in the Abbey's Nave. His friends set up a memorial trust to provide for an annual lecture on spirituality, and we held the first one in 1986. The lecture is repeated each year at Keble College.

2023 lecture

This year's lecture will be given by Professor Anthony Reddie, Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Culture, in the Abbey at 6:30pm on Thursday 25th May 2023. He'll be discussing From Black Theology to Black Lives Matter and Back Again.                                 Places are free but should be booked in advance via the Eventbrite website.

Painting of Eric Symes Abbott, Dean of Westminster 1959-1974

Further Reading

You can obtain booklets of the Eric Symes Abbott Memorial Lectures from King's College London.

Read Eric Symes Abbott's The Mystery of the Transfiguration: Seven Meditations.

Past lectures archive

36th Eric Symes Abbott Memorial Lecture

Securing a Europe of Peace, Freedom and Justice

Speaker: Lord Adonis, Chair of European Movement UK and Visiting Professor at King's College London

Thursday, 12th May 2022

35th Eric Symes Abbott Memorial Lecture

Money, Bias and the Geography of the Heart

Speaker: Loretta Minghella, Master of Clare College, Cambridge

Thursday, 11th November 2021

34th Eric Symes Abbott Memorial Lecture

The Most Spiritual of the Arts: Music, Modernity, and the Search for the Sacred

Speaker: Sir James MacMillan, composer, conductor and artistic director

Thursday, 9th May 2019

33rd Eric Symes Abbott Memorial Lecture

Beating the Bounds: Parish Ministry and Spirituality Today

Speaker: The Reverend Richard Coles FKC, Vicar of Finedon, Northamptonshire

Thursday, 24th May 2018

32nd Eric Symes Abbott Memorial Lecture

Faith and Imagination – How the Arts speak to the reality of the Unseen

Speaker: Salley Vickers, author and critic

Thursday, 11th May 2017

31st Eric Symes Abbott Memorial Lecture

The Sacred, the Profane and the Desecrated

Speaker: Professor Roger Scruton, philosopher, public commentator and author

Thursday, 26th May 2016

30th Eric Symes Abbott Memorial Lecture

Blessed are the Hypocrites?

Speaker: The Reverend Lucy Winkett, Rector, St James's Piccadilly

Thursday, 21st May 2015

29th Eric Symes Abbott Memorial Lecture

Beyond Justice

Speaker: The Reverend Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields

Friday, 25th July 2014

28th Eric Symes Abbott Memorial Lecture

Constantine's Vision and the Church Today - From the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (AD 312) to the twenty-first century

Speaker: Professor Dame Averil Cameron FSA FKC, Former Warden of Keble College, Oxford

Thursday, 2nd May 2013

27th Eric Symes Abbott Memorial Lecture

Mis-establishment - Locating, and Re-locating, the Church of England

Speaker: The Right Reverend Dr Peter Selby, President of the National Council for Independent Monitoring Boards, Visiting Professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, King's College, London; formerly Bishop of Worcester and Bishop to HM Prisons

Thursday, 10th May 2012