Butler: Parson, Musicologist, Beekeeper

Legacy and Influence of Charles Butler (1571-1647)

“Because reading ‘The Feminine Monarchie’ reveals rather little about the place, the time, and the social life of Charles Butler, it is most fortunate that members of the Basingstoke and District Beekeepers’ Association have written and published [this] lovely book … It provides a splendid view of his world.” Tom Seeley.

Four hundred years ago, a parson in the small rural parish of Wootton St Lawrence in North Hampshire made an impact on beekeeping and left a legacy that still resonates today.

This book celebrates the life and legacy of Rev Charles Butler, a man now widely recognised as the father of English beekeeping. Articles from 13 authors explore the impact of a man who was not only a parson, musicologist and beekeeper but also a logician, grammarian and author whose seminal work was The Feminine Monarchie.

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Butler’s landmark publication, this book explores Butler’s beekeeping style, the forage then available to his bees, the political and economic context of his beekeeping, even Butler’s bee music and puts in context why parsons were so influential in studies of the natural world. As one author states, The Feminine Monarchie is a ‘book for all times’ and carries lessons for beekeepers and those fascinated by the natural world today.

The Butler stained-glass memorial window in the Church of St Lawrence, installed in 1954, is an outstanding stunning artistic celebration of Butler’s life, so this too is explored and the book finishes with a walk around the parish outlining the rich history and sense of place of a remarkable small settlement.

I hope readers enjoy this book and expect they will be tempted to visit an unlikely historic site that even has links to world-renowned author Jane Austen and the father of modern ecology Rev Gilbert White.

Peter Northcote,
Chairman of Basingstoke and District Beekeepers’ Association

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