Lunn family

Sir Henry Simpson Lunn (1859-1939), WM minister, medical missionary and Liberal politician, came from an old Lincolnshire Methodist family and was born at Horncastle on 30 July 1859. He was educated at Headingley College and Trinity College, Dublin, obtaining degrees in both theology and medicine. His missionary service in India (1887-1888) was curtailed by illness and on returning to England he became a colleague of Hugh Price Hughes in the West London Mission. He published articles in the Methodist Times, severely critical of WMMS policy. The ensuing missionary controversy led him to resign from the ministry (1893) and redirect his energies into journalism and action for Christian unity. He edited the strongly ecumenical Review of the Churches (1891-95; revived in 1924) and organized a series of high-level conferences on church unity between 1892 and 1896 at Grindelwald, Switzerland. Following the 1920 Lambeth Conference he initiated another series of Anglican-Free Church unity talks at Mürren. (Though he originally had no commercial motive, his organization of overseas travel and accommodation developed into the Lunn Travel Company, which survives as part of the Lunn-Poly business.) For a short time he was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church of America, but in 1910 was confirmed as an Anglican.

He continued to see himself, like John Wesley, as 'a Methodist member of the Church of England', and even considered seeking Anglican orders. In 1920 he published Reunion and Lambeth and in 1927 chaired some of the sessions of the World Conference of Faith and Order at Lausanne. As well as being a pioneer ecumenist, he was a 'catholic' Methodist, publishing a series of books in the spirit of Wesley's Christian Library, designed to open up to Methodists the classic treasures of Christian devotion: The Love of Jesus (1911), Retreats for the Soul (1918) and The Secret of the Saints (1933). He wrote two volumes of autobiography, Chapters from my Life (1918) and Nearing the Harbour (1934), as well as a travel book, Round the World with a Dictaphone (1927). Politically he was a staunch Liberal, endorsing Irish Home Rule and taking a pro-Boer stance in the war of 1899-1902. He stood unsuccessfully for Parliament in 1910 and 1923. He was knighted in 1910 and died in London on 18 March 1939.

The oldest of his three sons, Sir Arnold Henry Moore Lunn (1888-1974), author and pioneer of the sport of ski-ing and slalom-racing, was born in Madras on 18 April 1888 and was educated at Harrow and Balliol College, Oxford, though without taking a degree. He wrote a life of John Wesley (1929). After engaging in public controversy with Mgr Ronald Knox, published as Difficulties in 1932, he became a Roman Catholic in 1933. Other exchanges also led to books: Is Christianity True?, with C.E.M. Joad (1933), Science and the Supernatural, with J.B.S. Haldane (1935) and Is the Catholic Church Anti-Social?, with G.G. Coulton (1946). During World War II he worked at the Ministry of Information. He was knighted in 1952 and died in London on 2 June 1974. The Arnold Lunn Memorial Lecture is given annually in his memory. His grandson, David, became a Benedictine monk at Downside, eventually left the Order (though remaining a Roman Catholic) and married the daughter of a Methodist family. He taught history at Bristol Grammar School until his death in 1996.

Sir Henry Lunn's second son, Hugh Kingsmill Lunn (1889-1949), was a versatile, prolific and iconoclastic author.

  • Coulson Kernahan, 'A Pioneer of Reunion', in London Quarterly Review, January 1919, pp.45-55
  • Methodist Recorder, 23 March 1939
  • Michael Holroyd, Hugh Kingsmill, a critical biography (1964)
  • Christopher Oldstone-Moore, 'The Forgotten Origins of the Ecumenical Movement in England: the Grindelwald conferences, 1892-95', in Church History, vol. 70, pp.73-97
  • Elizabeth Hussey, Biography of Sir Arnold Lunn, 1888-1974, North Charleston, SC (2014)
  • Oxford DNB