When my friend Ann suggested coming to stay, so that we could have a couple of literary walks together, I could hardly wait, as the walks were to be in Steep, Hampshire (to visit the village where Edward Thomas and his family lived, and where a memorial to him is sited) and Thomas Hardy's cottage at Higher Bockhampton, Stinsford Church (where his heart is buried), Max Gate (the house he designed and lived in), and Bere Regis Church.
We met up with another friend (Kim), and explored the village on foot. We parked outside the church and went inside to see the beautiful windows designed by Laurence Whistler.
The door was still dressed for Easter, though the blooms and leaves were fading a little.
The lovely stained glass window of the church.
The memorial to those of the village who had fallen in battle contained his name, of course.
This is the surviving half of the two windows which were designed and engraved in 1978 by Laurence Whistler to commemorate Edward Thomas' birth a century before. The light didn't show the details, so I have scanned the images below from the brochure I bought, and that shows the window that was broken. I would like to get my hands on the vandals that did it . . . they wouldn't forget me in a hurry!
Double click on the scanned image to see it properly. The jacket is his - notice the little butterfly on it, and the robin nearby . . . Some of the hillsides were etched on the back of the glass, to give perspective.
The poem is this one:
THE NEW HOUSE
Now first, as I shut the door,
I was alone
In the new house; and the wind
Began to moan.
Old at once was the house,
And I was old;
My ears were teased with the dread
Of what was foretold,
Nights of storm, days of mist, without end;
Sad days when the sun
Shone in vain: old griefs and griefs
Not yet begun.
All was foretold me; naught
Could I foresee;
But I learned how the wind would sound
After these things should be.
This is the village school, built from flint and brick - a tradition which stretches across the southern counties.
More Wisteria and a thriving Clematis montana rubens - and what a beautiful cottage, one I am sure he would have known.
Another village cottage which Thomas would have walked past many a time. The pantiles make it look like it has always been there, part of the landscape.
In July 1915 Edward Thomas enlisted in the the Artists' Rifles, and was commissioned a year later to the Royal Artillery, and was sent to France in 1917, where he was killed by blast in the Battle of Arraas on the 9th April. His burial plot is in the Military Cemetary at Agny, south of Arras.
The view from Mill Lane across the fields to Leg of Mutton Hill, the grassy area you can see bordered by the dark Yew trees.
The May blossom (Hawthorn) was delightful, with sprays of flowers arching from the trees like sea spume.
Tomorrow . . . we step into the view.