The story of Bennett’s life is told in his autobiography “Witness”, and also in two published diaries, “Idiots in Paris” (jointly with Elizabeth Mayall), and “Journeys in Islamic Countries”
June 7th 1897 - Born, Wimbledon, South London UK
1916 – leaves school, defers scholarship to Oxford, enrolls in Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, a heavy financial burden to his impecunious family.
1917 – Posted to Arras, France serving in Royal Corps of Signals
March 20th 1918 – Sustains severe head injury during German bombardment. Recuperates at Cambridge University, protégé of Vice-chancellor. Enrolled to learn Turkish at School of Oriental and African Studies, London. Marries Evelyn McNeill on same day that his father dies.
January 1919 – posted to Istanbul as deputy to Chief Liaison Officer. September – selected by Gen. Milne to be head of Military Intelligence “B” Division. Acting rank of Lt. Col. - youngest in British Army.
October 1920 – meets Winifred Beaumont, his future second wife, also P.D. OUSPENSKY and G.I. GURDJIEFF. Experiences vision of Eternity.
February 1921 – recalled to London, he acts as interpreter to P.M. David Lloyd George; resigns his Army commission.
April 1921 – appointed to represent the heirs of Sultan Abdulhamid II. Begins to attend public meetings in London with Ouspensky.
1922 – attends Conference of Lausanne as Turkish interpreter for Lord Curzon.
1923 – visits the Prieuré, Gurdjieff’s Institute at Fontainebleau, France. Spends month of August as resident. Declines Gurdjieff’s invitation to remain as pupil, citing family and professional responsibilities.
1925 – Divorced from Evelyn, moves to Athens, Greece, marries “Polly”, formerly Mrs Beaumont.
1928 – arrested on charges of filing false land claim, spends two months in gaol before charges abandoned. After his release, becomes partner in coal venture.
1929 – Aegean Mining Trust incorporated, but fails after the financial collapse of September 1929. Ouspensky distances himself from Bennett following Police involvement in Greek incarceration. Bennett forms his own group, sending regular reports to Ouspensky.
1930 – 1932 - Bennett involved in project in Greece to produce charcoal commercially from brown coal. Initial success leads to eventual failure following withdrawal of Greek government support.
1933 – permitted to rejoin Ouspensky’s groups; works in coal research. First scientific paper published.
1935 – appointed Director of British Coal Utilization Research Association (BCURA)
1939-45 – serves on several wartime industrial committees. Acquires use of Coombe Springs estate as coal research centre for BCURA.
1946 – Incorporates INSTITUTE FOR THE COMPARATIVE STUDY OF HISTORY PHILOSOPHY AND THE SCIENCES, which buys Coombe Springs outright. Twelve initial residents including Elizabeth Mayall, George and Mary Cornelius, Hylda Field. Many others come as visiting participants in group work.
1948 – Convinced that further global war is inevitable, Bennett travels to South Africa to study possibility of building spiritual community. Decides against leaving England. Travels on coal business to U.S. for the first time, meets Ouspensky’s widow at Franklin Farms, Mendham, NJ.
July 3rd 1948 - Mme O. urges him to re-contact Gurdjieff and effect reconciliation with Ouspensky’s estranged pupils.
August 5th 1948 – meets Gurdjieff again in Paris for first time in 25 years. Meeting is immediately followed by Gurdjieff’s near fatal car accident. As Gurdjieff recovers, Bennett travels to Paris many more times with as many pupils as are able to come. Gives lectures in London on Gurdjieff’s work.
January 1949 – Bennett meets Gurdjieff in New York. After Gurdjieff’s return to Paris, Bennett makes frequent visits.
August 1949 – spends month of August in Paris with Gurdjieff.
October 29th 1949 – Gurdjieff’s death in American Hospital, Paris.
1950 – Bennett is member of groups headed by Henriette Lannes in London.
1950 - Bennett is removed from his job in “communist spy” investigation. Polly suffers first heart attack.
1953 – Bennett travels in Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Iraq. On his return, gives series of lectures on Gurdjieff. Begins work on new assembly hall to be built at Coombe Springs.
1954 – meets Sheikh Abdullah Daghestani with Elizabeth Mayall, travels in Iraq, Iran.
November 25th 1956 – opened in Subud by Husein Rofé. “The Dramatic Universe” Vol 1 published, generating little interest outside Bennett’s circle of pupils.
1957 – Pak Subuh arrives in England, with his wife and four assistants. Despite some objections, Indonesians invited to stay at Coombe Springs. More than 300 of Bennett’s group members opened in Subud.
1958 – Bennett and family travel to U.S., Australia and Far East with Pak Subuh and family. Polly Bennett dies age 83. Bennett marries Elizabeth Mayall. “Concerning Subud” published, becomes bestseller.
1958-1959 – Bennett travels extensively in Europe and North America as translator for Pak Subuh. “Concerning Subud” Second edition published.
1960 – Bennett resigns as Subud helper, leaves Subud Brotherhood. Received into Catholic Church.
1961 – travels to Nepal to meet the Shivapuri Baba
1962 – second trip to Nepal, returns via Mid-East. First meeting with Hasan Shushud.
1963 – meets Idries Shah.
1965 – Coombe Springs donated to Idries Shah. Bennett family move to private house in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, UK.
1966-1971 – Structural Communication Systems Ltd. Develops and markets educational and business systems.
1971 - Twenty-fifth Anniversary Conference of Institute launches International Academy for Continuous Education.
October 15th – First Basic Course inaugurated with 88 students followed by four further one-year courses.
October 1974 – Bennett signs agreement to buy Claymont Court West Virginia.
December 13th 1974 – Bennett’s death.
October 1975 – First Basic Course at Claymont.