Living with Feeling: Dr Guy Hayward on pilgrimage, evensong and musical satire

Guy Hayward, second left, with co-founder of the BPT, Will Parsons, right.

By Jules Evans

Welcome to another episode of the Living with Feeling podcast from the Centre of the History of Emotions. My name’s Jules Evans, and this week — this episode — I interviewed Dr. Guy Hayward. Guy is a young man in his early 30s, who is doing very interesting things in his life and career. He’s someone that I really admire, so it was a pleasure to talk to him.

He started off as a chorister at Cambridge University where he did a PhD in music, but decided not to become a traditional academic, and instead has carved out a role for himself, as an explorer of the intersection between spirituality, psychology, the arts, nature and religion. He seems particularly interested in how we can engage with our Christian heritage, even if we are not traditional Christians, which I think is a very important question for British culture at the moment.

He’s developed two initiatives in the last few years, which I think are a kind of brilliant example of doing something which doesn’t take a huge amount of effort but has big impact and results. The first is something called the British Pilgrimage Trust, which works to re-open ancient pilgrimage routes around the UK, let people know about them, and that you can walk them. The BPT is about helping people to re-connect to, and re-enchant, the land.

Click above to watch Guy Hayward and Will Parsons at the Do Lectures, 2017.

And the second thing he’s worked on is the revival of evensong in the UK, so he launched a website,, where people can find local evensong services near them, and go along and listen to the beautiful music, free of charge.

So, I think what connects both Pilgrimage and Evensong is that these are both Christian practices that you can participate in, and get a transcendent experience from — or a spiritual experience from — even if you don’t believe in the specific dogmas of traditional Christianity. I think that’s very important for our post-religious, skeptical society which is still very hungry for a more spiritual life.

We also talked about his experience of academia, and what you can and can’t say in mainstream academia, and we talked about his other job, singing in one half of a cabaret duo.

So: lovely person, fascinating person, and I hope you enjoy the conversation.


Click below to listen to the conversation or here to read the transcript.

Jules Evans is policy director at the Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary, University of London. He is also a journalist, has appeared on BBC 2′s Culture Show, on Radio 3 and 4, RTE-1, ABC Australia, and has written for The Times, Spectator, Wall Street Journal, Prospect and many other publications. His book, Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations, is being published in 19 countries, and was described as 'a revelation' by The Observer.