A Swindon Town Great War Pilgrimage

A Swindon Town Remembrance Pilgrimage

We must have numbered a football team,
Umbrellas unfurled at the cenotaph,
Where we spoke of Walter Tull and Spurs,
And Swindon Town and Northampton Town
Footballers who fell in the Great War –
The rain providing a suitably melancholy backdrop,
As we made our hilltop climb to Christ Church,
A welcoming peal rather than a knell
Resonating across the Old Town sky,

While we gathered, inside, by the war memorial,
Inscribing George Bathe’s name on a remembrance cross,
George Bathe, STFC, KIA 1915,
A memento mori for all to share,
Carried by George’s great-nephew, Phil,
Before we made our blue plaque way to Radnor Street,
To talk of Freddie Wheatcroft, star Swindon striker,
Killed in Action,
And Alfred Williams, the Railway Poet,
And the writer Edward Thomas who loved Swindon so much,
Killed in Action.

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Football’s Coming Home at The Prince Albert

I like visiting the Albert,
I like the way it commands a crossroads,
Welcoming all cardinal points of the compass,
Just like a traditional inn should,
I particularly like it when the football comes home.

I like visiting the Albert in springtime,
When vases of flowers greet you in the bar,
With vernal fragrance and equinoctial promise,
Stretching into blossoming infinity,
But that’s not as good as when the football comes home.

I like summer drinking in the Albert,
With a pint of Alton’s Pride,
It’s like an infusion of Thomas Hardy,
With every novel you’ve ever read
Returning like a Native,
Or like the football.

I like autumn drinking in the Albert,
When mists and mellow fruitlessness
Entwine themselves around the eaves,
Just like a gothic Woman in White,
Or Jordan Pickford.

I like winter drinking in the Albert,
Sledging down the snow-scaped common,
Then in the bar for mulled ale and wine,
Just like we’re in A Christmas Carol,
But not with the ghost of Sam Allardyce.

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Rodborough Walk

We followed the old way out of Rodborough, taking Kingscourt Road to follow the 1300 Manor boundary. A route of old farmsteads, vanished feudal obligations and lost names.
De Rodboroughs and Gastrells, Achards and the Cynnes.
Red valerian and plump roses topped the summer limestone walls as we continued up The Street, through shady hanging beech woods and on to the site of the Horestone. Lost marker of the boundary of the manor of Minchinhampton.
Then a sharp climb, out of the shaded wood and up the dazzling limestone grassland slopes of the common. Such a richness of wild flowers. Their names as beautiful to the ear

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The Final Scores

1914-1918: And Now For The Final Cost:
These figures show 2014 research into the number of players at the clubs below who lost their lives in the Great War. This may not yet be the Final Cost. There is also an interesting postscript.

Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 1
Barnsley 4 Blackburn Rovers 2
Birmingham City 2 Blackpool 3
Bolton Wanderers 1 Bradford City 9
Derby County 6 Brentford 7
Brighton and Hove Albion 5 Bristol City 5
Bristol Rovers 3 Bury 7
Burnley 5 Cardiff City 0
Chelsea 6 Clapton Orient 4
Coventry City 6 Crystal Palace 4
Bradford Park Avenue 2 Everton 7
Exeter City 6 Fulham 0
Grimsby Town 1 Huddersfield Town 5
Hull City 4 Liverpool 6
Luton Town 3 Manchester City 9
Manchester United 8 Middlesborough 7
Millwall 5 Newcastle United 9

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The National Trust, Counter-Heritage and Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Heritage and Counter-Heritage: Are They So Very Different?

Two recent visits to ‘historic’ houses and a recent walk have made me question the usual binary opposition of heritage and counter-heritage, and got me thinking that perhaps they lie rather more on a continuum.
A visit to Dennis Severs’ house
A counter-heritage disenchantment walk http://radicalstroud.co.uk/colonial-countryside-disenchantment/,
and a visit to the National Trust cottage of Samuel Taylor Coleridge at Nether Stowey have set me a-thinking.

It struck me at Nether Stowey, that the National Trust quite-right wish for visitor-enchantment, involved counter-heritage practices too … and if the National Trust does that …

The Coleridges’ Cottage: Samuel and Sara

It sits in Lime Street, Nether Stowey,
Just off the old Minehead turnpike road,
Opposite a pub called the Ancient Mariner:
(The inn sign has no picture, just the words:
THE ANCIENT MARINER in upper case,
With a tiny inset top left: Lyrical Ballads)
The cottage of Samuel Taylor Coleridge –
The home and workplace of Sara Coleridge,
Now a National Trust Museum –
Involves an imaginative re-creation
Of how the cottage might have looked in 1797,
In that year of poetic wonderment;

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Alternative Heritage Walk

Radical Stroud’s June walk is a week-early Jo Cox Memorial Walk: Meet at Rodborough Church, Friday June 15th at 10; returning to the church at 1pm. We shall be investigating the medieval history of Rodborough from the days when it was still owned as part of the Manor Minchinhampton by the Abbess of Caen. A trail that takes in several recorded medieval residences and places.

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FGR and WWI Memorials

I pedalled through snowdrops and birdsong,
To the two war memorials in Woodchester,
Then bicycled past umpteen old cloth mills,
River liquid light all along my way,
To Nailsworth, Avening, Minchinhampton and Amberley,
With long barrows and a standing stone for company;
On through Shortwood, Tickmorend and Downend,
To Horsley
(A memorial just by the church, the bus stop and the school),
Before descending through Ruskin Mill’s sluice-scape,
A heron pointing my way back to Nailsworth,
Just before the rain came in, on a mid-day westerly breeze.
My next trip meant the number 35 bus,
A two pound forty single delight,
Gazing at the wood anemone by the roadside,
A palimpsest of ancient woodland by this main road,
Traveling by bus on what was once a prehistoric track,
That once made its way under a gloomy canopy,
But now tarmacadam speeds south of the Cotswold scarp –
But I was on my way to Nympsfield’s war memorial,
Just by the shadowed wall of the Old Chapel,
A crucifix, refashioned from one found on the Somme,
And brought back to this Catholic village in 1917;

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