William Elmhirst

William Elmhirst was born in London in 1929 but grew up at Dartington Hall in Devon, a wonderful house and garden surrounded by farmland, which his mother and father, Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst, had purchased in 1925 with the intention of creating an alternative model to hold people in the countryside by providing the “good life” there.  In 1936, this became the work of the Dartington Hall Trust.

When he was ten years old, William’s family went to America for their summer holidays.  While they were there, the Second World War started, and so his father and my mother decided to leave their children in America for the duration of the war under the care of their nanny, Miss Jefferies, who became their surrogate mother, while they themselves returned to Dartington.  William was not to return until 1944 when he came back to attend the Foxhole school at Dartington, which his parents had established as part of their experimental educational work.

In the mid-1950s, William left Dartington to study as a drama student at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and in 1957, during the first year when he was in the theatre at Stratford with the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company, his mother came to see him to persuade him to become a trustee of the Dartington Trust.  Somewhat reluctantly he agreed.  He was a trustee for the next fifteen years and enjoyed and, for most of that time, admired the spirit of fellowship and energy that existed in the Trust.

However, something else was also beginning to arise in his life – and would change it forever.  On that same visit to Stratford, William told his mother about a spiritual experience he had had and could not explain.  His mother said, “Oh well, there’s a lot of this in the air at the present time.” It was at that moment William decided it would not remain “in the air” for him, and that he would go more deeply into it.

At the time there were some articles in a newspaper by Air Marshall Lord Dowding, the victor of the Battle of Britain, about spiritual experiences, and William wrote to him saying he had had such an experience and asking how it could be explained.  In reply, he wrote, “Read my books!”.  So William did and they made a great impact upon him.

At the end of one of these books there were listed several groups that Lord Dowding felt were genuine for those who wanted to learn more to get in touch with.  William wrote to them all, eventually deciding to join one called The Society of the Inner Light.  The Society was in the Western esoteric tradition and had been founded by a woman called Dion Fortune.  It had a correspondence course, to which William enrolled, and after three years he passed, was initiated into the Society and became a member of one of its groups.  To participate in the group necessitated living in London, which he did, and ultimately he became the Society’s secretary.

Dion Fortune had been a member of The Golden Dawn, the group of which W. B. Yeats was a member and who, along with many other leading intellectuals at the turn of the century, was very interested in the higher worlds.  As the title of Rudolph Steiner’s book, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment, indicates, these higher worlds are attainable if people dedicate themselves to the task of gaining entry into them.  So William set out on this path and for him it was the search for “the kingdom of heaven that is within you” that was most important – the search for God within.

Dion Fortune firmly believed that the West had its own yoga which she felt was The Tree of Life, but by the time William joined the Society, the group in London was going into decline and compromising some of her work.  Nevertheless, he was with The Society for nearly ten years until the late 1960s, at the end of which he had made contact with his “master”.  Through his influence William was guided to leave and return to Dartington.

Something of great importance was about to happen.

Attending a course on spiritual healing, William met Vera Strachan, who he was later to marry.  Vera was by that time already a seer and was channelling inspired teaching within a group in Tiverton.  William joined Vera’s group and soon recognized the quality of what she was bringing through.  It was of a very unusual quality and he knew it was from a divine source.  Then one day, while standing on the top terrace of the gardens at Dartington Hall, Vera received guidance to send one of her friends to find William and to bring him to her.  He joined them, and together, there and then, they received an invitation to undertake work for God.  Not knowing what it was they accepted the task, and this became the start of the work of what was first known as The Dartington Solar Quest.  William and Vera married in 1972 at Uffculme in Devon.  No member of his family attended, his mother having died quite unexpectedly and peacefully in December 1968.

And so, in the early 1970s, urged on by the teachings being received by Vera, they started their work together.  In January 1972 they published two booklets containing teachings received through Vera from Joseph of Arimathea and from his servant, Ozra.  The second booklet contained a teaching that Joseph of Arimathea, together with the boy Jesus, had come to Dartington.

But everything was about to change. The trustees of the Dartington Trust were unable to accept William and Vera’s work and, in time, after a bitter disagreement, and despite William’s attempts to find a compromise, William resigned as a trustee and he and Vera left the Hall and began a Quest that would take them to America for many years before returning to England.  Vera died in 1992 leaving William to continue the work, sometimes alone and sometimes with others.

The work of the Quest – the received teachings of Vera and the work of “activation” undertaken to bring Mother Earth once more to Her true place in the cosmos – forms the main part of this website and is recorded in three volumes of A World Restored and Not Destroyed [link] and in another booklet called Activation