Alister Hardy Religious Experience Research Centre Archive

Scope and Content

The archive contains the accounts of religious experiences collected by the centre; research papers; administrative papers; papers concerning other organisations; published material, and material on religious experience and Alister Hardy collected by John Keeble.

Administrative / Biographical History

Alister Clavering Hardy was born on February 10th 1896 at Nottingham. He was educated at Oundle School, and Exeter College, Oxford, where he received his MA and DSc.

During the First World War, Hardy held the rank of Lieutenant and Captain with the Northern Cyclist Battalion. In 1920, he was awarded both the Christopher Welch Biological Research Scholarship, and the Oxford Biological Scholarship at the Stazione Zoologica, Naples. The following year, he took up the post of Assistant Naturalist in the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. In 1924, he became Chief Zoologist to the Discovery Expedition, and remained in this post until 1928.

Hardy was made Professor of Zoology and Oceanography at the University College, Hull in 1928. He remained there until 1942, during which period he was awarded the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society, and made a Fellow of the Royal Society. He went on to hold the post of Regius Professor of Natural History at the University of Aberdeen, before returning to Oxford in 1945 as Lincare Professor of Zoology. On his return, he was made an Honorary Fellow of Exeter College and Merton College, and also Emeritus Professor. During his time at Oxford Hardy also held the post of Professor of Zoological Field Studies, and received his knighthood in 1957. In 1963 he became Gifford Lecturer at Aberdeen. He received an Honorary LLD from the institute in 1968, along with an Honorary DSc from Southampton, and the Pierre Lecomte Nouy Prize from Hull.

It was in 1969 that Hardy founded the Religious Experience Research Unit (later the Alister Hardy Research Centre (AHRC) and now the Religious Experience Research Centre (RERC)). Based originally at Manchester College, Oxford, the unit began gathering accounts of religious experience, and publishing research in the area. Today, the centre welcomes researchers, and organises regular conferences. It also publishes a variety of material including books, such as Hardy's own The Spiritual Nature of Man (1979), and it's own newsletter De Numine. In 1989, the centre moved to Westminster College, and since 2000 it has been located at the University of Wales, Lampeter, where it co-operates with the university in organising an MA course on religious experience.

Hardy was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1985. He has published widely on both Zoology and spirituality, and a volume of his watercolour sketches have also made it into print. He died at his Oxford home on the 24th of May 1985.

Access Information

Enquiries regarding the archive should be made to Jean Matthews, Archive Supervisor, Religious Experience Research Centre, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter, Ceredigion, SA48 7ED, Tel: 01570 424821, E-mail:

Acquisition Information

The archive was transferred to the University of Wales, Lampeter in 2000, when the Religious Experience Research Centre moved from Oxford to its new base at Lampeter.


Description compiled by Rhian Phillips, Archives Hub project archivist, with reference to Who Was Who, Vol. VIII: 1981-1990, (London: A and C Black, 1991) and

Other Finding Aids

Basic finding aid available at the University of Wales, Lampeter.

Related Material

Alister Hardy's library of books, and his collection of artefacts and works of art, are held at the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Wales, Lampeter.Further papers of Sir Alister Hardy are to be found at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and at the Brynmor Jones Library, University of Hull.