Papers of Ian and Jennifer Hartley on the Molesworth Peace Camp

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Correspondence with supporters, peace organisations, the base, local councils, Members of Parliament, the Ministry of Defence, church bodies, and the media. Molesworth bulletins, leaflets, and other publicity material. Press cuttings.

Administrative / Biographical History

Following the announcement that RAF Greenham Common, in Berkshire, and RAF Molesworth, in Cambridgeshire, would be sites for the deployment of the US Air Force's mobile nuclear armed Ground Launched Cruise Missiles, both sites became a focus for protest in the early 1980s.

At Molesworth, a People’s Peace Camp was set up at “Peace Corner”, on Old Weston Road by the wartime entrance to the base, on 28 December 1981. The camp was initiated by the Fellowship of Reconciliation and was to retain a strong Christian and Quaker flavour, although welcoming all faiths and none. A simple wooden multi-faith peace chapel, known as Eirene (Greek for “peace”) was built in Spring 1982.

On 26 July 1983, the camp was evicted and the chapel destroyed. The camp moved to Warren Lane, Clopton, on the west side of the base. Two of the campers, Timmon Milne and Bridie Wallis, married and held a celebration on the base. It was decided to build a more permanent peace chapel, using rubble from the old runway and embedding personal objects in its walls; Architects for Peace helped draw up the plans. The cornerstone was laid on 14 April 1984, and on 2 September, still roof-less, the chapel was dedicated for all faiths, with the blessing of the Bishop of Huntingdon. Wheat was planted on the base, to grow food for the starving in Eritrea.

In August 1984, the Molesworth Green Gathering was held. This grew into the Green Village, then into Rainbow Fields Village, where about 100 lived on the base in vans and tents.

In January 1985, Ian and Jennifer Hartley, from Ipswich Meeting, set up their caravan “Halcyon Spirit” at Peace Corner. They described themselves as “communicant members of the Anglican church as well as being members of the Society of Friends” and hoped to heal rifts within the camp and with local people.

On 5 February 1985, over 1000 police and troops evicted Rainbow Village and erected a razor wire fence around Molesworth. Eirene and the wheatfields were also enclosed. The Hartleys, just outside the perimeter, were on a tiny piece of Church of England land, and so were not evicted. They remained until December 1985, attracting considerable media attention. On being refused access to the chapel, they held twice daily peace witness just outside the wire.

Largescale demonstrations followed, at Easter 1985, and a sitdown blockade organised by CND on 6 February 1986. On 14 April 1986, the chapel was bulldozed.

The Tools for Eritrea Project was set up to collect hand tools to enable Eritrean farmers to grow crops. The Diggers Walk, in March 1986, brought tools from St. George’s Hill to Molesworth, where they were tested on waste land.

Unlike the Greenham camp, Molesworth included men as well as women. In July 1986, a group of women expelled men from Molesworth, following three rapes at the camp the previous year.

The United States and the Soviet Union signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 1987 which led to the removal of all nuclear missiles from Molesworth and Greenham. The missiles began to leave Molesworth in 1988 although peace camp presence remained at Molesworth into the 1990s, helping the Cruisewatch project.

After leaving Molesworth, the Hartleys spent seven weeks in India for War Resisters conference, then returned to Ipswich. They remained active in the campaign against Cruise at Molesworth, corresponding extensively with local councils, MPs, the base, the Church and the media.

Arrangement

The original system of arrangement has been retained where possible to ascertain.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to archive material is subject to preservation requirements and must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act and any other appropriate legislation. This archive contains personal data on individuals throughout, and access is therefore restricted under the Act. More detailed cataloguing may make it possible to refine this restriction. Researchers should contact the Special Collections Librarian for information about the status of the material they wish to view.

Acquisition Information

Donated to Commonweal by the Peace Museum, 1998.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished boxlist.

Archivist's Note

Described by Alison Cullingford.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be supplied or produced at the discretion of Special Collections staff, subject to copyright law and the condition of the originals. Applications for permission to make published use of any material should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian in the first instance. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

Some obvious duplicates and published items have been removed. It is probable that further weeding will be appropriate when more detailed cataloguing is carried out.

Custodial History

Several files appear to have been created by John and Pleasaunce Holtom, peace campaigners at Molesworth, who lived at the Old School House from 1986. These files appear to have been added to the Archive before it was received in Bradford.

Related Material

Special Collections at the University of Bradford also holds the Papers of Tim Wallis on Molesworth Peace Camp (GB 0532 Cwl TWM).