Salisbury (Sarum) Probus Club

Sarum Probus Club is an organisation for retired men living in the Salisbury Area.


  • On 9th September Steven Fletcher spoke on "Philosophy".

    The subject was basically the philosopher's opinion about the nature of what is The Truth.

    From the time of the ancient Greeks through the medieval period until the modern times many great philosophers have considered the nature of truth.

    In ancient Greece there was a division between Heraclitus who believed everything changes and Parmenedes who believed that nothing really changes, all change being seen as an illusion (Maya in Indian philosophy).

    Plato rejected the extremes of Heraclitus and Parmenedes and said that the physical world changes but in a metaphysical realm there are ideas that do not change.

    All reality Plato said consisted of the realm that changes and the realm that does not change though the realm that does not change is more real than the realm that changes. Aristotle combined the seperate ideas into one entity called in Neo Platonic philosophy "The One" "ta ontos" in Greek.

    At the same time there were people who said that humans could not know reality because it was always beyond us. These were called the "Sophists".

    The Christian medieval Scholastic philosophers used the Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle as did Many of the Muslim philosophers but other the mutability philosophy of Heraclitus which can lead to Sophism. This is also echoed in the Jewish philosophy of the Kabbalah since the 1200s AD.

    The Enlightenment thinkers used the thinking of Aristotle that the universe followed rules which they called the laws of nature (following Aristotle's natural law concept) to say the universe could be understood as a clock having it's own regularity.

    The Enlightenment project was the denial of specific Christian revelation because it maintained that science could provide all of the answers. The Enlightenment period is called by some the modern period. The post modern period sees the rejection of the Enlightenment project and return to the Sophist rejection of objective knowledge so that relativism becomes the unconscious norm in society.

    From all of the above we see that side by side through every age there has been a dividing line between two philosophical trends.

    The first is the belief that there are two realms, one believes there is an objective reality that does not change which we humans have a duty to discover. This is the "duty of seeking and living out the truth" at all times no matter the inconvenience. These people are rare because the truth once discovered can be inconvenient. The Soviet GULAGs had people like this in them where there were "prisoners of conscience."

    The second trend was the subjectivist approach whose followers believe there is no objective truth and that each person makes there own truth. We see this echoed in modern legislation (supreme court decisions in the USA) and culture especially in the doctrine of hedonism. Post modern education is built upon the denial of objective which is most clearly seen in current academic history.

  • On 23rd September Ruth Newman spoke on the subject of Laverstock Hospital.

    Opened in 1781 and closed in 1955 was one of the largest in the country.

    For the benefit of those members that now live in Laverstoke the speaker showed maps of the actual layout, reminding us that in those days Laverstoke was in the country on the outskirts of Salisbury.

    The driving force behind the whole project was Dr William Finch (who had 14children) developing the extensive area into a country park providing every comfort & social amenity one would not expect to see in a home for over 100 patients.

    These were divided int 3 categories, Private, Paupers from a disruptive background and Criminals. Although the last group were mainly based at Fisherton.

    From the records office based in Chippenham. A Frenchman probably from the war was resident there for 33 years from his entry in 1797.

    In 1834 Julia Saunders an 18-year-old girl from the I.O.W. was admitted for just 6 weeks. A passenger in a coach which had stopped at the Pheasant inn on the A30 claimed the horses were attacked by a lion, (which was never found) spent 26 years in the asylum.

    Thomas Campbell who was thought to be a sutor to Queen Victoria as well as a well-known Poet & Producer had his son placed there in 1822. There was a very positive outlook with the emphasis being on prevention of worsening mental health and claimed never to have used a straight-jacket. Staff were very loyal and worked there for many years

    John Hillier who was a Black man & had 7 children was the personal cook but appeared in many other roles and was a very kind man. Great use was made of the grounds and outdoor amenities, amid a fine array of Ash trees. In 1850 it became a private only asylum with the paupers being centred on Fisherton.

    Dr Finch died in 1845 and his wife died shortly after. Dr Haynes took over in 1860, unfortunately the place started to deteriate, and by 1901 there were only 40 patients. Many improvements were made in 1930’s but it was finally closed in 1955.

  • Here are details of some earlier talks given to the Club.

  • If talks or trips out like this interest you, why not join us. Contact the secretary (01722 340508, 07553787345) or email