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Wednesday, September 09, 2015

ELEGY (?) IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD

A morning spent cleaning out the garage (it needed it). A pleasant afternoon meant I could take the e-bike out for some relaxation.

(Click on images to enlarge for more detail)

St. Rumswold Churchyard, Bonnington was a good destination for a short ride (about 12 miles) and a stop for coffee. It is a favourite spot, where one day (not too soon, I hope!) my ashes will be scattered. My seat there is courtesy of Steven Cross, in whose memory it was erected. The Robert Louis Stevenson quotation carved on the back is most apt, for an avid yachtsman. (Home is the sailor/Home from the sea)


Close by is his grave with an unusual "stone" made of good English oak. His wife Cynthia, a "passionate horsewoman", who died a bit later, is buried beside him in her own grave - not side by side, but with their memorials facing each other. Poignant. Both had short lives, I see.

















The church stands on the boundary of Romney Marsh. It is the oldest in the area being first constructed in 796. It would once have been on the banks of the ancient river Limen which wound its way over the Marsh from its Channel estuary near Hythe and was probably a point for unshipping  goods for the old road northwards.

But the local topography is steeped it history. When Napoleon Bonaparte threatened invasion it was decided to construct a defensive Canal across the Marsh, feeding it from the local rivers which were diverted into it. The photograph below shows the old river Limen bed to the right at the field's edge with the later Military Canal running behind it through the trees.


Interestingly there is a relic of a later war, a machine gun observation post, when, in 1940 Hitler's armies again threatened this frontier of Kent.

A little afternoon meditation encapsulating history -  796, 1806, 1940 all from a country churchyard

10 comments:

The Crow said...

Lovely post, Avus; poignant grave sites. The final photo made me feel homesick for the rolling landscape, beautiful countryside. Don't know why such views tug at my heart, for I've never seen anything like it in person, but they certainly do.

Avus said...

Crow:
Guess you better call by sometime, Martha. Let me know when you are coming and I will put the kettle on. (and give you a tour of my "Little Corner")

Anonymous said...

Ah Pa,
Lovely meditation on the history of the area. I shall remember the history of the place now.

To quote an author you admire ...
' If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.' R. Kipling.

Love, daughter x

Avus said...

Thanks m'dear. As usual, Kipling had a word for it.
When I write things like this I think about the times I took my little daughter out for bike/motorcycle rides and sought to interest her in history/topography. (and seemed to have succeeded, too)
Pa xx

Tom said...

Thank you for this, Avus. Not entirely sure why it does, but it rings distant bells.

Avus said...

Interesting ,Tom. What bells are ringing, I wonder? Is it something in your personal experience or something I have written in the past?

Tom said...

It may have something to do with that England that lives in my mind, but which may never have quite existed in outer reality. We have mentioned this before.

Avus said...

Tom:

"If England was what England seems
An' not the England of our dreams,
But only putty, brass, an' paint,
'Ow quick we'd chuck 'er! But she ain't!"

Lucy said...

Wasn't there a Goon Show joke

'Are you fond of Kipling?'
'I don't know, I've never kippled...'

Lovely post Avus.

Avus said...

Lucy:
I think that one goes a bit further back than the Goons. A venerable Punch joke of circa 1900. Young blade to demure miss "......................