An artist, stonemason, Christian and Ordinand Robyn has found many iterations of ‘home’ in Salisbury.
Describing herself as both a conservative and a rebel Robyn has found expression for both sides of her character. Always challenging herself to ask the bigger questions in life, Robyn talks in this podcast about being true to herself, offering healing to others and working with grief and loss.
Robyn Golden-Hann was born in the Cathedral city of Wells, Somerset which she refers to as the little sister of Salisbury. To experience the liminality of the space within Wells cathedral had a profound effect and Robyn retains the same sense of awe, expectation and excitement when visiting a church for the first time.
Leaving school without feeling a sense of purpose Robyn chose to work within nature and has always felt at home in the mud. Whether at Cheddar Gorge, building the roof for a monkey sanctuary or market gardening Robyn realised that money was not important in her life.
Falling in love took Robyn to Essex where, by chance, on a library visit, a careers book fell open on an entry about stonemasonry. At this time, questioning her faith, Robyn decided to attend Weymouth College but not until she had signed up for archaeological digs at Milton Keynes and West Heslerton, Yorkshire. Meeting a Czechoslovakian on a dig appealed to Robyn’s sense of adventure and a short while later she followed her heart across Europe like ‘a feather on the breath of God’ (Hildegard of Bingen).
Successfully completing a one year City & Guilds course in stonemasonry at Weymouth College and after more travelling (hitch hiking through Europe from the Czech Republic to reach Jersey) Robyn would go on to work at David Kindersley’s workshop. Robyn can trace the heritage of her practise to the Arts and Craft Movement through Eric Gill and Edward Johnson.
Robyn worked as a stonemason at Salisbury Cathedral for ten years whilst living at Bemerton Heath before becoming self-employed for fifteen years. It was at this point in Robyn’s life that she experienced a break down whilst questioning her gender identity. Finding self-acceptance and coming out as transgender Robyn looked for her place in the world; and beginning the process of gender-transition, started to build a new life. A month later Robyn also began attending church, which was also to be a transformative experience.
Undertaking memorial work as a stonemason, Robyn was used to dealing with grief and loss and subsequently trained as a listening volunteer with The Samaritans; now occasionally assisting with training and in supporting her colleagues to help understand trans identities. Through an extraordinary, visceral experience Robyn was called to train for Ordained Ministry in the Church of England, which she has been undertaking at Sarum College in Salisbury Cathedral Close. The opportunity to engage in academic study for the very first time in her 50’s has been a remarkable experience.
Salisbury has had a significant impact on Robyn’s life: in her creative career, faith development and in family life. She has found ‘home’ here in the Christian church community, the LGBT community and through the Samaritans as well as the Bemerton Players drama group.
Interview and article Louise Jordan
Index photograph Gemma Brunton Photography other photographs supplied by Robyn