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Triratna’s Southampton sangha (UK) are delighted to announce that they will shortly be moving their classes - into a pub! The premises in question is the Plume of Feathers, to be found in St Mary’s, the oldest and most ethnically diverse part of town.
Anyone alarmed by the prospect of Buddhist classes being held in a pub will be reassured to know that it ceased to function some seven years ago, when it lost its licence - apparently due to excessive drug dealing.
The even better news is that the Southampton sangha has managed to purchase the property, a milestone which marks the fulfilment of a decade-long dream for them, a decade marked by numerous attempts to find suitable premises and numerous setbacks. In fact four years ago they almost succeeded in purchasing the very same pub only to lose it at the very last minute. This was a substantial blow for the people concerned and little further effort was made to find premises - until this year when the search revived.
As a new addition to the sangha, I spent the summer cycling around the city photographing empty properties and building up a portfolio of possibilities. Along the way I naturally noticed that the Plume of Feathers was still empty. Some internet research identified the owner and to everyone’s astonishment an approach resulted in an offer of sale and eventual completion.
Inside, the pub is somewhat like the Marie Celeste, a sort of ghost pub where one expects the drinkers might return at any moment: beer glasses still on the shelves, cans of fizzy drinks (some completely rusted through) still in the fridge, and all the pumping equipment and beer barrels still in full working order on the bar - even a pool table! Conversion work has already begun and the upstairs flat is already a regular meeting place for the Sangha.
I think we’re still somewhat in shock; hardly able to believe it’s really ours. Having our own Buddhist centre has been such a dream for such a long time and here we are! Personally I really believe in creating longterm Buddhist centres: they’re places we can really put down roots, create an atmosphere, and shape them so that the very building reflects our ideals. I hope we’ll be able to do that and more at the Plume of Feathers. It’s a great building and we’re very lucky.
Visit the Southampton sangha’s website.