The Origins of the International Hermeneutic Society (IHS)
The IHS began life in the late 1950’s in Liverpool. It was founded by Khen Ratcliffe and his teacher, Eugene Halliday who taught eternal universal truths to all those that would listen and work to understand them and themselves. Ratcliffe devoted himself to making these accessible to a wider group of people by publishing Halliday’s work. To this end he opened Tan-y-Garth Hall in 1972 as the first permanent yoga retreat centre in the UK, and established it as a registered charity.
History of the IHS at Tan-y-Garth Hall
Khen was helped to establish the yoga centre by a group of supporters from Merseyside. He served as its first Director of Studies and Secretary of the Society. He was succeeded as Director after his death in 1992 by Donald Sinclair Lord, who also trained under Halliday.
Founder & Director of Studies, Khen Ratcliffe with family circa 1972
R-L Khen Ratcliffe, Bah Ratcliffe, daughter Sheligh and boyfriend, daughter Janet Milligan
The Ratcliffe family at Tan-y-Garth Hall
Khen ran the Hall along with members of his family including his wife Bah, daughter Janet and her husband Richard Milligan, with support from associate members of the charity. Under Don Lord the membership became more involved in the management of the Hall serving as trustees, working alongside Khen’s second wife Anne, who became Resident Custodian of the Hall. Other notable teachers associated with the Hall over the years include, Gordon & Pam Smith of Faith House on the Wirral, David and Zero Mahlowe of Parklands in Bowden Cheshire (the centre where Halliday lived and taught, Lynne & Richard Samuel-Perry of the Yoga Centre Oswestry and Dr. Alan Roberts, who along with his wife Vedah, were founding members.
Director of Studies, Donald Sinclair Lord with trustees and members circa 1998
Back row L-R: Geoff-Rhon Stevenson (Custodian Trustee), Alan Roberts (Managing Trustee), Derek Murray (Chairman), Dave Phillips (Custodian Trustee), David Pickup (Treasurer), Gordon Smith (Custodian Trustee).
Middle row: Dr. Andrew Moore (Managing Trustee), Monica Downey (Managing Trustee), Andrew McGarva (Secretary, John Resick Member).
Front row: Trudi Hayden (Vice-Chairman), Lynne Samuel (Managing Trustee), Anne Ratcliffe (Resident Custodian), Don Lord, Jane Pickup (member).
Both Halliday and Ratcliffe defined yoga after it’s Sanskrit source, meaning 'union' or 'yoking', and interpreted this as "union or yoking" with the divine. i.e. the process by which the individual works to be re-united with the ultimate source of their being. So yoga in this, as well as in the more more commonly understood sense in the west, remains the core of our work. Hence our work brings together yoga in the eastern and western traditions.
Many members of the Society, particularly the older ones, knew Eugene Halliday personally. They know he was not one of those money-oriented teachers who present themselves as the sole source of light unattainable by their disciples. He taught everyone to look within, and that the highest centre of each of us is unique. He recommended the reading of all major scriptures of the world and the works of the great philosophers.
There was no subject in which he was not interested; he was at home in the world of the sciences as much as in the world of the arts, which he loved. He was not simply an intellectual, although he read many languages. He studied many scriptures in the original languages and travelled the world. He was no mere 'other worldly mystic', but a man of profound spiritual insight and power, who lived consciously in the eternal world, without despising the time process, which he taught to be essential to our spiritual development.
The IHS and the Eugene Halliday Association (EHA)
We have a long and supportive relationship with the Eugene Halliday Association and its predecessors based in Greater Manchester, with many of our members attending each other's events in both teaching and learning capacities. In 2019 we collaborated with members of the EHA on the Art of Eugene Halliday and Kathe Schuftan exhibition held at Tan-y-Garth Hall, and intend to build on this with further collaborations.
The IHS and the Sunbury Yoga and Hermeneutic Society
The founder of the Sunbury Yoga & Hermeneutic Society, Keith ap Owen was a friend and collaborator mentored by Khen Ratcliffe, the IHS founder from the 1960's. We are delighted to have more recently renewed our association and to have hosted our first online yoga course with Keith by way of "An Introduction to Dhyana Yoga", his own specialist field.