The pilgrimage to Barnsley

Several years ago, a group of leaders from the Chinese church came to England on a holy pilgrimage. They had followed in the footsteps of one of Christianity’s great missionaries in the Far East, travelling for days to worship at the hallowed birthplace of their religious teacher.

When they reached their destination, the church leaders got down on their knees and prayed. “This truly is a sacred place,” they said. Canterbury Cathedral, perhaps? Westminster Abbey, or Stonehenge? Not quite. It was a branch of Boots. In Barnsley town centre.

For Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was home to James Hudson Taylor, the 19th-century missionary credited with taking Christianity to mainland China. And the site where Boots stands was once the Hudson Taylor pharmacy and family home. For his followers, the rows of painkillers and meal deals make for a shrine as worthy as Lourdes. And if a new heritage group has its way, the town could soon see thousands more pilgrims worshipping in the aisles.

Oddly, a distant part of the family followed in Hudson\’s footsteps. One of my Mother\’s cousins was born in China as a result.

6 comments on “The pilgrimage to Barnsley

  1. To be pendantic on the above article: To follow Taylor’s footsteps would take one to China. Following them back would lead to Barnsley.

  2. Ecky Thump wasn’t Chinese surely? Although it did show a difference between the people Up North and our American cousins – because wasn’t that the episode which caused a man to laugh to death? The widow is supposed to have sent the Goodies a letter thanking them for making her husband so happy. Instead of, say, suing the living daylights out of them.

    I love the move to passive voice when they say:

    “For Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was home to James Hudson Taylor, the 19th-century missionary credited with taking Christianity to mainland China.”

    Credited by whom precisely? Because only a moron could think that Christianity in China only dates back to the 19th century.

  3. Great story, though crediting Mr Hudson for “taking Christianity to mainland China” seems a slight exaggeration. It had arrived at least 1300 years earlier, probably via the pre-Islamic Persian Empire.
    If only Barnsley realised, it has the makings of a centre for visitors, not least to the council-owned Wentworth Castle, where Hudson’s exploits might be better memorialised than at Boots.

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