Historic meeting between a Diss man and the Dalai Lama is recreated

An historic meeting between a Norfolk man and the spiritual leader of Tibet has been recreated.

In 1811, Thomas Manning of Diss, crossed the Himalayas and became the first European to meet the Dalai Lama.

More than 200 years later, Mr Manning's great-great nephew and Diss Museum manager Basil Abbott met with the current Dalai Lama at a private meeting at Westminster Abbey.

The meeting, which was held on Wednesday, was arranged following the museum's festival last year - Friends in High Places: The Manning Story - celebrating the achievements of the Manning family.

Thomas Manning, who was born in 1772, was a Chinese studies scholar and was the first Englishman to enter Lhasa and met with the ninth Dalai Lama who was just five-years-old at the time.

Just over 200 years later, his great-great nephew Robert had an audience with the current and 14th Dalai Lama.

Mr Manning, 82, a former Diss solicitor, travelled to Westminster Abbey with Mr Abbott to recreate the meeting. The pair were part of a group of several dozen people with connections with Tibet and were granted a few minutes with the Dalai Lama.

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Mr Abbott said he gave a bottle of Lavender water to the Dalai Lama to replace the one that Thomas Manning had brought as a gift, but had broken on his journey in 1811.

'I have had a long-held ambition to recreate the meeting of a Manning and Tibet's spiritual leader and my wish came true, via contacts made during the festival. The Dalai Lama is an incredible man and has a great sense of humour,' said Mr Abbott.

Diss Museum commemorated the Manning family of rectors last year with a festival comprising of more than 20 events, including a residency by the Tashi Lhunpo Monks.

Thomas Manning was a son of the first of four Manning rectors and brother of the second that served as Diss rectors for a total of 138 years.

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