The deathplace of Aleister Crowley

Tony Puppy outside Netherwood, Hastings, 6th December 2008

On Saturday 6th December I was in Hastings, and decided to see the place where Aleister Crowley spent his last year, and indeed died. The place, Netherwood, was demolished some time ago and all that remains of the original building is this coach house and the East Wing of the main building, now a pub.

So far so touristy. Later I read up about Crowley’s time at Netherwood and found he died there on 1st December 1947, and was cremated in Brighton on the 5th December; so my chance visit was very nearly on his anniversary. That made it a bit more spooky, had forces conspired to send me to Hastings this weekend for this purpose?

Anyway hope you like the pictures. They can also be viewed in the photo album, under the album ‘Nowadays’.

Some history of the last day’s of The Beast 666 ripped from below:

In 1975, while staying at Hastings, England, with my aunt, I was fortunate enough to be introduced by her to Kathleen (or ‘Johnny’) Symonds, a charming widow in her 60s, who had not only been Aleister Crowley’s last landlady but who was with him when he died in 1947.

Mrs Symonds and I soon established a pleasing rapport, which was sufficient to prompt her to reminisce about her former guest — a man made notorious by the popular press for the practice of ‘sex magick’ and other supposedly shocking occult activities — which she had refused to do with journalists. I met with her again on later visits to the South Coast resort, when she allowed me to tape-record her recollections.

Johnny had owned and run, with her husband Vernon, a large, gabled Victorian guest house named Netherwood. The property stood in its extensive 4-acre grounds, wherein were outbuildings, a lawn tennis court, a large garden, shrubbery and many trees, on The Ridge, a road running across the flank of the upland area behind Hastings, about 500 feet above sea level. Netherwood’s situation afforded extensive views of the town, its Norman castle, Beachy Head and the sea, which were doubtless part of its albeit wind-blown attraction to visitors.

Keeping Netherwood going during the Second World War, when there was food, fuel and petrol rationing, had been hard for the couple, but business started picking up in the second half of 1945, once the conflict was over.

Vernon Symonds’ disposition helped in this regard. He was a sociable ‘arty type’, keen on amateur dramatics, good conversation and on mingling with those well-known in the arts and sciences. He used his contacts to tempt down intellectual luminaries like Professor C.E.M. Joad, J.B.S. Haldane, Edith Bone, and Professor Jacob Bronowski to Netherwood, on the understanding that in return for a free stay they gave a talk about their work and ideas to the other guests. Vernon also provided the best cuisine possible in that difficult period and a relaxed atmosphere.

The intellectual and gustatory attractions of Netherwood were made clear by him in the handbook: ‘So long as I am here,’ he wrote, ‘this house will never be a guest house in the ordinary sense of the term. Those seeking a conventional establishment will be able to find better accommodation elsewhere, for my friends care more for fine food than for the ritual of dressing for dinner, and more for culture and the arts than for bridge and poker.’

Netherwood even featured significantly in the musical development of one young prodigy. ‘A couple called Caplan,’ explained Mrs Symonds, ‘frequently brought down a boy named Julian Bream who would play the guitar for the guests. After his recital we would pass the hat around and the money collected would pay for his next lesson. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.’

It was in this unusual and somewhat snobbish milieu that Aleister Crowley, the Great Beast 666, found his final haven.

At the end of the war Crowley was lodging in cold, cheerless, uncomfortable digs in Surrey, which had acerbated his chronic asthma and depressed his spirits. Finding somewhere else to live was proving difficult, for he was not only a victim of his own notoriety but he lacked a regular income. Worried about him, his old friend Louis Wilkinson, having heard about Netherwood and its eccentric proprietors from Oliver Marlow, who acted with Vernon Symonds in the Hastings Court Players, asked Marlow to enquire if the Symondses would be prepared to take on such an infamous old reprobate.’So my husband came home and asked me, “Do you mind if Aleister Crowley comes and stay with us?”‘ related his wife. ‘So I said, “Whoever is he?” And he said, “He’s the wickedest man in the world.” “Oh,” I said, “I don’t care!”‘

But if Johnny had never heard of Crowley before, his dramatic arrival soon alerted her to the fact that he was no ordinary mortal.

She explained: ‘Eventually we received a telegram which said, “Expect consignment of frozen meat on such-and-such a day and at such-and-such a time,” when meat was still on ration — so the Post Office handed (a copy of) this telegram to the Food Ministry.

‘We were somewhat perplexed by this because we hadn’t ordered any meat and we were even more surprised when the day arrived and two food inspectors turned up in anticipation of the delivery. While we were talking to them an ambulance suddenly came down the drive, the door opened, and out jumped Aleister Crowley with about 40 or 50 paper parcels (containing) all his books. My husband said, “Well, there you are: that’s the frozen meat!” ‘

That day, she recalled, Crowley looked rather pale and wan, and his hair was cut very short. He was wearing ‘rather wide knickerbockers’ with stockings, and shoes with big silver buckles. Augustus John’s portrait of him, which was drawn earlier in the year, shows him with the same gaunt, somewhat startled appearance possessed by many elderly people. Johnny could not remember the exact date of his arrival, and when we looked in the Netherwood guest book of the period, we found that its first page had been torn out, presumably by someone intent on stealing Crowley’s signature. However, as the next date in the book was 8 September 1945, it suggested that he had come to stay at Netherwood either in late August or very early September, about six weeks before his 70th birthday.

There was a choice of rooms and Crowley opted for number 13, which was at the front of the house. ‘He wanted to go into that one,’ she remembered. ‘It was furnished in the same way as most of the other rooms. There was a large wardrobe, a writing table, a bookshelf and a single bed, as well as a bathroom and toilet. He put up quite a lot of pictures, including several he had painted in the Himalayas.’

Crowley brought with him some special gold coins, which he claimed had magic powers and was anxious about keeping safe, and a ‘box of (I Ching) sticks’. He made frequent use of the latter. ‘When he had an appointment for the dentist, for instance, he threw the sticks in the air. And once he called me and said, “Phone the dentist immediately! The sticks have told me not to go.” The dentist was very amazed.’

The Great Beast soon settled into a regular daily routine. At nine each morning the housekeeper Miss Clarke took him his breakfast, and at ten, if the weather was fine, he would take a stroll in the garden, where Johnny kept some beautiful plump white rabbits, which he nicknamed ‘The Chrysanthemums’ and would love to watch. When the sun shone he would often sit with his hands held heavenwards.

Crowley then spent most of the rest of the day sleeping in his room, where he also took his other meals. His favourite snack was sardines sprinkled with curry powder. He roused himself as darkness fell, and sat up all night either writing letters, reading or indulging in his heroin drug habit.

‘He had a ration of heroin which was allowed him,’ Mrs Symonds said. ‘It used to come down from a chemist called Heppel’s in London. But the police knew about it. I’ve often watched him stick a needle in his arm. He didn’t mind.’

The housekeeper Miss Clarke was not very fond of Crowley, whom he teased by calling her a witch and by claiming he had seen her flying past his window at night on a broomstick. Crowley’s raillery may have resulted from her clumsiness in nearly losing one of his precious gold coins, which she shook out of the window along with the crumbs from his tablecloth. It fell into the bushes below, where it lay for several hours, much to its owner’s consternation, before finally being found.

An amusing incident involving Miss Clarke occurred when Johnny asked Crowley to do her horoscope, but could only tell him that she had been born in the night.

‘When he got round to starting the horoscope, he wrote me a little note which he placed on his breakfast tray. The housekeeper peeped at it, and when she saw that it said “Before or after midnight?” she showed it to my husband, thinking that I was planning a nocturnal escapade with Mr Crowley. We all had a good laugh about that.’

Despite his unenviable reputation and the fact that he insisted on greeting everyone with injunction ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law’, the Great Beast proved a popular addition to the Netherwood household. He had considerable charm, a pleasing personality and was very erudite, which helped make him a good companion and a stimulating talker. He had many long conversations about all manner of subjects with Vernon Symonds.

Crowley joined Hastings Chess Club, where ‘nobody ever beat him’, and he also took the time to tutor the Symonds’s nephew Roland, who later became a priest, in Latin. He sometimes went for walks along The Ridge, where on sunny days he would often stop and lean against a lamp post and hold his hands palms upwards to the sun, and he patronised a health hydro there named Riposo.

‘He had many visitors,’ Mrs Symonds disclosed. ‘He had some people over from Germany who used to bring him lovely wine. And he had somebody who was in the army in Germany, who went afterwards to America.’

Crowley’s English visitors included Kenneth Grant, author of Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God, Michael Houghton, the owner of the Atlantis Bookshop, John Symonds, who wrote The Magic of Aleister Crowley, and of course Louis Wilkinson.

‘He had many parcels from America with boxes of chocolates (in them) when they were rationed here, and at one time he had boxes of chocolates stacked from floor to ceiling. And he had this very strong (peluke) tobacco made with molasses; and the smell of that tobacco stayed in the room for a long time after Crowley was gone. He also made friends with a local grocer named Mr Watson, who took him out for drives and would come and look after him.’

As far as Johnny was aware, Crowley did not practise any magic, let alone ‘sex-magick’, at Netherwood, although this was probably because he was by then sexually impotent and physically ailing.

Yet she poignantly recalled that ‘there was a film in Hastings called The Wizard of Oz, and he told me he would very much like to see it. But I said, “It wouldn’t interest you at all, it’s a children’s thing.” So he didn’t go!’

Aleister Crowley’s health began seriously to deteriorate towards the end of 1947 — ‘He had a very bad chest, a sort of bronchitis’ — and despite the administrations of Dr Charnock-Smith and the efforts of Mrs Symonds ‘he got worse and worse and I think he died of pneumonia’, an event which happened on Monday, 1 December. He was cremated at Brighton on the following Friday.

‘Mrs Thorne-Drury and myself followed the coffin from Hastings to Brighton. At the crematorium we found only a few mourners, perhaps two or three. I remember that a German lady placed some red roses on his coffin. There was no service. Louis Wilkinson, who had a beautiful voice, read his poem Pan and something else that Mr Crowley had written. When we got back to Netherwood in the taxi there was a tremendous thunderstorm with lightning, which continued for the whole of the night. Louis Wilkinson, who travelled back with us, said: “That’s just what Crowley would have liked”!’

According to Johnny, Aleister Crowley was an easy-going, trouble-free resident, who not only spent much of his time in his room, but who rubbed along well with the other visitors and with her and her husband. Indeed, her feelings about him were entirely positive: ‘I liked him,’ she said. ‘He was great fun.’

  1. Crass Dave
    Crass Dave
    December 7, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Hey Tony, I didn’t know you were into Crowley. I was a member of the OTO a few years ago but moved onto into CoS.

  2. alistairliv
    December 7, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Typhonian or Caliphate?

  3. alistairliv
    December 7, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Netherwood one of the places (along with 93 Jermyn Street !) where the young Kenneth Grant met AC. Grant wrote a book “Remembering Aleister Crowley” which is £16.49 from Amazon, or £17.35 second hand….

  4. Carl
    December 8, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    But Tony…Did you launch a full scale assault on the pub ??

  5. Tony Puppy
    Tony Puppy • Post Author •
    December 8, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Sorry Carl, I didn’t drink the beast’s health. I did use the toilets tho’.

  6. Crass Dave
    Crass Dave
    December 8, 2008 at 7:34 pm


    I was in The Caliphate then left to join the Typhonians kept a magical record of my daily practice which was “the Star ruby” for about six months then did not pursue the full nine as I was corresponding with Kenneth Grant via Muller and after a few letters decided I would pursue my own path which eventually led me onto Lavey’s CoS.

  7. Penguin
    December 8, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    Anton Le Vey’s record here >>>
    if you want to get in the groove Church Of Satan style!
    I have also added some more meat to Tony’s post. A great bit of writing about Crowley’s last years in Hastings.

  8. Tony Puppy
    Tony Puppy • Post Author •
    December 8, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Regarding the text you added Penguin, thought the bit about Crowley not going to see The Wizard Of Oz film was a great chance lost. What would he have made of it?

  9. baron von zubb
    baron von zubb
    December 9, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Bejeesus we have a load of satan loving caliphatists here.
    Sam, where de hell is de thixofix?

    I read a big Crowley book once, a kind of guide to magical expertise.
    It was all yoga, karma, raja, jnana even hatha based, very intersting disciplined stuff. But I couldn’t help wondering if he just hadn’t read a load of Vedanta and changed the paragraph order.
    Tony you’re still looking cute in yer top hat there. xx

  10. Penguin
    December 9, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Originally from Tony Puppy, moved from a different comments thread:

    Crass Dave, if you don’t mind me asking on a public forum how did you move from Crass to OTO? Or did the two co-exist in your life?

    I ask because there was a fair bit of anarcho/occult stuff going on at the time much to Crass’s disapproval. Do you think Crass’s obsessive anti-religious stance fostered an occult, even satanist belief?

  11. Crass Dave
    Crass Dave
    December 10, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Tony, I was always interested in horror movies,monsters,etc from a very early age.I was 13 when got my copy of the Avon edition of “The Satanic Bible” from the 10p basket in W.H.Smith ! Moving on a few years I loaned it to someone who worked in the local independent record shop where us punks used to hang out in Newcastle and he had passed it on to his mate who I was introduced too and become matey with.He was into TG and Crowley and it was only years and years later when I was into Crowley and reading up on the band Current 93 that I recognized the face of the guy from all those years ago as being David Tibet.

    I wouldn’t say that Crass fostered a occult or satanist belief as this was at the time dormant, though I always appreciated the lyrics that Crass wrote, especially when attacking christianity . The Crowley OTO side came on a good few years later when I chanced upon a hardback copy of “Magick” in a second hand book store after reading about Jimmy Page who was into Crowley, opened a occult bookshop in London, rebuilt Crowley’s Scottish retreat and lived there and had either the first or second biggest collection of Crowley memorabilia in the World and I wanted to know why someone who was so brilliant a guitarist and multi millionaire could be into all this, surely Crowley couldn’t be a fraud and this led me into studying Crowley which then led onto the OTO. I left the OTO because I was more interested in the practical aspects of the higher degrees , but was told I shouldn’t pursue that line until I was close to taking those degrees, which I wasn’t prepared to wait years and years . Then I found out that the Caliphate wasn’t the “true” OTO but Kenneth Grant’s order was, so applied but became disillusioned with all the emphasis on “extra-terrestrials” and all the stuff about the kalas and being told that membership of the “Soveriegn Sanctuary of the Gnosis” was by invitation only.A occult aquaintance loaned me a copy of LaVey’s “The Satanic Witch” which led me back to that first book I got out of the 10p basket at WH Smith all those years ago.

  12. Tony Puppy
    Tony Puppy • Post Author •
    December 12, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Good answer Dave. You didn’t move into Chaos magic then?

  13. Crass Dave
    Crass Dave
    December 13, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Yeah, in a round about way. I had met Lionel Snell (aka Ramsey Dukes) who wrote “STOMBE” and I also corresponded with Phil Hine when he was organising the “Chaos Symposiums”. Basically I just took bits from other systems and mashed it all together. But now I would say I use Spare’s system of sigilization as my number one means, though I do use simplistic stuff from Micheal Bertiaux “Hoodoo”. How did you get in to Crowley?

  14. John No Last Name
    John No Last Name
    December 13, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Off topic kind of, but I remember a girl from the States coming over to Palatine Rd one day and asking if there was any great book stores where she could buy books on magic. Someone at the house that day (I’m not sure if it was Sean or Mick Bladder told her about a book shop on or near Shaftsbury Ave which if I remember rightly was called ‘Mysteries’ that was the place to buy that kind of stuff and that Britains most important and powerful Magician was a man named Paul Daniels and she should specifically ask for books on him as the people in the shop would be really impressed and would give her preferential treatment.

  15. Crass Dave
    Crass Dave
    December 14, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    No, the most powerful magician in England today is the Tax Man.

  16. baronvonzubb
    December 15, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Nope. Obvious but..
    The most powerful magician, in your case dave, is ‘crass dave’.
    In mine; B V Z etc

  17. cynical old bastard
    cynical old bastard
    December 20, 2008 at 6:15 am

    Quality Crowley info, I always meant to sniff around Hastings myself.
    Quality post.

  18. boil
    June 22, 2009 at 12:52 am

    Thanks for making the effort to publish this. I’ve been aware of Crowley since the 70s due to his ubiquity (being everywhere) and I read his seminal Diary of a Drug Fiend 1922 in about 1979 which is an interesting window on heroin and coke addiction and has the upbeat positive solution that you have to discover your true will to beat addiction. Not that Crowley managed to overcome his addiction. However, as he managed to live to 72 without overdosing or dying young of hepatitis etc then that says something. Although I have never felt much urge to get involved with magick I have also happened to encounter various people in Chaos Magic and Scientology and whatnot. And through my interest in genealogy I researched the living Crowley family material that they have published on the net. So it is refreshing to read your piece which surprisingly suggests that in his final years “the most evil man in Britain” was able to behave himself and be polite and be an agreeable “erudite” addition to the household. And he didn’t do anything nasty – or at least didn’t get caught if he did. Perhaps this is worthy of further publicity as there is still a fair bit of murder and nasty crime done in his name around the world and if the loonies knew that he ended up being a genial old gent who got on with people then perhaps it might reduce the evil legacy a bit. And his cousins might be relieved to hear this cos they have had to live with his reputation all these years and they’re normal decent people and have not enjoyed being tarnished by the old goat. Anyway, ta for this, mucho interesting. Regards, Boil, London

  19. Atheist as Fuck
    Atheist as Fuck
    July 22, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Funny how you guys canonise a racist rapist…. still searching for authenticity, huh? Fuck Crowley and fuck his pseudo semi-religious bollocks.

  20. alistairliv
    July 22, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Crowley was actually an atheist – which is why his religious bollocks were so semi and pseudo.

  21. Semi Bollocks
    Semi Bollocks
    July 28, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Alistairliv – your response reminds me of the story/joke told by Russians about Putin and Stalin.

    Stalin’s ghost visits Putin one night.

    Putin says “What should I do to save the country?”

    Stalin’s ghost says “Imprison and then shoot any democrat. After you’ve done that paint the inside of the Kremlin blue.”

    Putin replies “Why should I paint it blue?”

    Stalin’s ghost says “I knew you’d only be interested in the 2nd part. You’re perfect for the job.”

  22. alistairliv
    July 28, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Crowley = Stalin? I wonder how many divisions the OTO have? [From a joke Stalin once made about the pope.]

    I have found this
    on AC as racist. Haven’t found any accusations of rape though – where does that come from?

    And are we still in search of authenticity after all these years? Was KYPP ever about a search for authenticity? A quick check with wikipedia ( I am a lazy sod) for authenticity links it to a “canon” of existentialist writers who include Soren Kirerkegaard, Martin Heidegger [who was a Nazi] and Jean-Paul Sartre… none of whom ever got a name check in KYPP. Was punk a ‘search for authenticity’? Or was it just something we made up as we went along?

    Picking up what ever we found in jumble sales and second hand bookshops, cutting and pasting Wilhelm Reich with a bit of Crowley…for example from KYPP 2 page 11 (on Sid Vicious Memorial March) “Fascism is the child of the marriage between repression and frustration…love is the law…love under will”

    A splash of surrealism, a dash of hand-me-down situationist rhetoric mixed with some Bauhaus and Charge, if we dabbled in occultism it was closer to Bowie’s glammed up Golden Dawn and contained no trace of Himmler’s sacred realm… from Bowie song Quicksand on his Hunky Dory album in case you don’t get the reference – hear it at

    Before punk we had been inspired by glam rock – and you can’t get anything less authentic than glam. Can you?

  23. slyme68
    July 31, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    so true alistair, but are you hoist by your own petard in writing heidegger off as a nazi in your post? “revolutionary self theory” – to borrow a phrase from larry law, is avoiding consuming ideology/ideologists wholesale and constructing personal praxis from what we find inspiring from as much thought as we can bear to search out.

    heidegger’s thought on “building” and “being” i find core to the human condition which can form part of an antidote to alienation in its link to recapitulation of history needed in daily life, especially building your own shelter.

    this part of heidegger informs some of my work with children on adventure playgrounds, one of the few places where children have the opportunity to construct, destroy and rebuild, and to recapitulate.

  24. gerard
    July 31, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    “People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth.”

  25. alistairliv
    July 31, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    slyme68 – The Heidegger/ Nazi link came from reading through very detailed and lengthy critical comments in a discussion of Heidegger’s importance in the Guardian

    I have never read any Heidegger myself, so can only say that the ‘anti’ Heidegger comments seemed to out way the ‘pro’ ones.

    I have been trying to make sense of Hegel, esp. his influence on Marx and also working backwards from Debord/ situationists to Lukacs/History and Class Consciousness…which again seems to go back to Hegel. Hegel also crossed over into my Galloway Levellers research since he drew on Scottish Enlightement theories of civil society and political economy … and there is a link from the levellers to early Scottish Enlightenment theory and practice of political economy/ civil society.

  26. Penguin
    July 31, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    Wah! Gerard?
    B Side of ‘Story Of The Blues’ maybe?
    Can’t remember…or did Wylie rip it off someone else like a famous writer or poet (and thus I may have made a complete twat of myself?).

  27. alistairliv
    August 1, 2009 at 8:28 am

    I think Gerard is quoting Raoul Vaneigem from “The Revolution of Everyday Life” – a situationist book first published in 1967.

  28. Penguin
    August 1, 2009 at 9:24 am

    …and thus I have made a complete twat of myself! Sure Wylie nicked it for one of his tunes though!

  29. alistairliv
    August 1, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Quite right Mr. P, songfacts says re. The Story of the Blue Parts One and Two by Pete Wylie/ Wah!

    “Part Two takes the form of a spoken monologue and refers to the works of Raoul Vaneigem and Jack Kerouac.”

  30. slyme68
    August 15, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    alistair – i spent about an hour typing to you on hegel etc. i brought in modern play theorists, sutton smith and hughes, and proposed a dialectic within the process of playing which i linked to debord’s transitory decors in “constructing situations, an introduction” and the “fields of lived experience” demanded by gray, nicholson-smith, clarke and radcliffe in “the revolution of modern art and the modern art of revolution”

    but a slip of the mouse and it all disappeared forever.

    ah well.

  31. Penguin
    August 15, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    Feel your pain Slymeon…and…you what? 🙁 Didn’t understand a word of that. Al will though, cos he is a little brighter than me concerning this type of stuff! 😉

  32. alistairliv
    August 15, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Yes it is damn annoying when things vanish like that… so I am writing this on open office first before posting.

    What I have been doing is working backwards from Debord to Lukacs to Marx to Hegel to Adam Smith, James Steuart, David Hume and Henry Home… to the Board of Trustees for the Improvement of Fisheries and Manufactures in 1727, to the Malt Tax riots of 1725 and the Galloway Levellers in 1724 and the Honourable Society of Improvers in the Knowledge of Agriculture in 1723…to the Union of 1707 and the ‘Glorious’ Revolution of 1688/9. William of Orange invaded Britain because the Dutch were at war with the French. William needed stop any potential alliance between a Roman Catholic James II and the French. So William played the protestant card and invaded Britain. He was then able to use British troops to fight the French.

    What worried William of Orange/ Queen Anne’ s bourgeois governments was that Scottish loyalty to the Stuarts ( James II and his son) might give the French the chance to support a Jacobite uprising in Scotland, leading to a counter-revolution. So the Union of 1707 was pushed through to get rid of Scotland’s political independence. BUT – the Union failed to deliver any immediate economic benefits to Scotland. The Jacobites exploited this economic failure and mixed it with Scottish nationalism, although the Jacobite rebellions of 1708 and 1715 failed. Neither the Galloway Levellers in 1724 nor the Glasgow Malt Rioters in 1725 were Jacobite revolts – they were driven by economic factors – but prime minister Walpole recognised that they were warning signs so he encouraged the Board of Trustees for Improvements to be set up. The Hon. Society of Improvers had been campaigning for such a body since 1723.

    The Board of Trustees objective was to promote economic developments which would provide employment for the poor. Walpole argued that funding the Board (out of the Scottish malt tax) would be cheaper than keeping 6000 troops in Scotland to suppress rural and urban revolts.

    There is then a complex tangle (which I am still researching) between the Board of Trustees in 1727 and James Steuart’s ‘Inquiry into the Principles of Political Oeconomy’ 1767 and Adam Smith’s ‘The Wealth of Nations’ in 1776. Both books also preceded the development of industrial (modern) capitalism from the 1780ies onwards, but Hegel definitely read and critiqued them. Hegel was also aware that industrial capitalism was impacting on the political structure of Britain. His last piece of writing was on the ‘English’ Reform Bill of 1831. Hegel died in 1832.

    Until recently I thought that Marx then took Hegel’s ‘mystical’ philosophy and turned it on its head to create his critique of capitalism/ political economy – but it does seem that Hegel had already begun to do so. And again we have a jump – from Marx to Lukacs’ ‘History and Class Consciousness’ in 1922. Unlike most Marxists (including Engels but not quite Lenin), Lukacs was familiar with Hegel. [Lukacs also wrote a book on Hegel -‘The Young Hegel’] and so was able to re-connect Marx with Hegel in ‘History and Class Consciousness’. [But I have not read H and CC since doing my Hegel/ Marx research.]. Lukacs had to retract H and CC soon after it was published since it was not orthodox Marxism…

    To finish up, Debord was def. influenced by H and CC – so although Hegel had little direct influence on the Society of the Spectacle, it is haunted by his ghost. How far the influence extended into the SI / to the present I don’t know.

    Perhaps the importance of contradictions, of the fluidity of situations – like games, like play.

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