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Papers of Ian and Jennifer Hartley on the Molesworth Peace Camp

Archive reference: Cwl MA

The Hartleys and Molesworth Peace Camp

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 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. It was decided to build a more permanent chapel. 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. 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.

Ian and Jennifer Hartley, from Ipswich Meeting, set up their caravan “Halcyon Spirit” at Peace Corner in January 1985. 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. 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. On 14 April 1986, the chapel was bulldozed. 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.

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.

The Archive

These papers were received by Commonweal Library in 1998 via the Peace Museum. They include:

  • 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.

The Archive was catalogued as part of the PaxCat Project, with support from the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives.

Special Collections also holds the Papers of Tim Wallis on the Molesworth Peace Camp.

Hartleys Molesworth Papers collection description

Collection description of the Papers of Ian and Jennifer Hartley on the Molesworth Peace Camp

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