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July 9, 2012 / garyalex

Historic Meeting With Dalai Lama

Such is his charisma, that when the Dalai Lama enters a room everyone backs away to the wall.
We were told this at Westminster Abbey while awaiting the arrival of His Holiness. But we were assured that he would put us all at our ease. It would not be like a royal occasion; but more like a church fete.
For me this event was the fulfilment of a dream. My greatest wish had been to re-create the meeting of a member of the Manning family and Tibet’s spiritual leader.
200 years ago Thomas Manning of Diss travelled to Lhasa to become the first European to meet the Dalai Lama; and the last for a further century.
In 2011 Diss Museum commemorated the Manning family, rectors of Diss for 138 years, on the bi-centenary of Thomas’ journey. Now his great-great nephew Robert (82) was going to repeat history.
His Holiness was charismatic, funny and humble, being especially loving towards a little boy and an old lady. While someone else was talking, the great man tiptoed over to the lad and gave him a sweet.
The people there all had historical connections with Tibet. One girl was the grand-daughter of Mallory the lost Everest climber of the 1930s.
The Dalai Lama gave a speech about compassion and then met us in small groups. Robert and I were first. I explained our connections and introduced Mr. Manning.
Thomas had taken gifts, including a bottle of lavendar water which his servant dropped. So I took a plastic bottle from Boots to replace it. His Holiness enjoyed the joke, as did everyone in the room.
I was looking forward to hearing about all the other connections; but everyone went all quiet and English so we couldn’t hear them.
But this was a great day for Robert and the Manning family, for Diss, the museum and for myself.

Basil Abbott


Leave a Comment
  1. Richard Manning / Oct 8 2012 10:19 pm

    Hi Basil, How interesting… I have heard about Thomas Manning, first when I was in Tibet and then later via research I have done elsewhere. A very interesting man, to me, anyhow. I am a “Hampshire Manning” but my family come from Newmarket back to the beginning of the 1800’s. I have heard that the name is very common in Norfolk too and am thinking of coming to Diss soon. Hoping to see a stained glass of Thomas M in the Church (?!) or are there just Manning coats of Arms – cross patonce or (gold) on gul (red). Would be interesting to see them too, I have traced the arms back to Kent in origination… Plus would be good to make contact with some local Mannings, I am doing some family research and am hoping to push it back beyond Newmarket now. Could you please email me and we could maybe have a chat ? Many thanks. Richard M

  2. Basil Abbott / Oct 9 2012 10:02 am

    Dear Richard
    We commemorated the Mannings at Diss museum in a big way last year. There is a small mention of Thomas on a stained glass window in Diss Church, plus the handiwork of his family in restoration. I could send you a powerpoint presentation, if you like.

    Best wishes
    Manager, Diss Museum

  3. Richard Manning / Oct 9 2012 11:20 am

    Hi Basil, thank you very much for the update. So there are still Mannings there at the moment. I would like to see the Coat of Arms in the church, I have been tracking it for a while. We will be passing Diss shortly and I will give you a ring beforehand, hopefully soon. I have a feeling that Thomas & I are related, even if distantly. There is also a Manning family that stems from Galway in Ireland, with a very very old provenance back to Scottish Picts. via Kingship in Ulster c. 562 AD. The family can be traced by the changes in the name: Ui Maine (Tribe Galway 600 AD) — O’Mainnin (son of ‘Mainnin) — O’Mannion — to become Manning when the Brits arrived in the 1700’s. ie Anglicisation of the name. Which is another possibility for me. If maybe less likely !! I wonder if Robert or others know about them ? Best wishes. Richard M…

  4. Richard Manning / Oct 12 2012 8:14 am

    Hi Basil, thank you very much. Could you please email me the powerpoint file ? You have my email address now, I can show it to my family… I am sure they will be interested. Plus I have some photos of Tibet that I can send across to you and Robert. Amazing place, but it was a bit unsettled when I was there in 1989. Best Regards. Richard C. J. M.

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