Rodborough Gardens Sculpture Trail: A Day in a post-Brexit Life

Rodborough Sculpture Garden Trail

It was strange returning to the Old Endowed School,
Where just three days before we had voted
In the referendum;
Members of the Rodborough branch
Of the People’s Republic of Stroud
Gathered in Church Place,
Sharing their sense of vote-shock,
Over soup, tea and cake,
Beneath the red, white and blue bunting;
Trench cake too, for the forthcoming
Churchyard Somme centenary;

But life goes on –

‘How many kinds of sweet flowers grow
in an English country garden?
I’ll tell you now of some that I know and those I miss,
you’ll surely pardon.’

Seven gardens were open to the public,
With sixteen artists exhibiting;
Families walking past
A quaint hand painted wooden sign:
‘GARDENS AND SCULPTURE TRAIL’,
With an arrow pointing left,
The necessary word, ‘TICKETS’,
Only just squeezing into its allocated space;
A greenhouse from the 1920s,
With bakelite attachments
For modernist electricity;
No. 2 Church Place;
Clinton House, Church Place;
Highcroft, Church Place;
Derrigar, Walkley Hill;
Steepways, Walkley Hill;
Glebe House, Walkley Hill;
Champagne at Rodborough Court from Omnitrack,
The sponsors of the occasion,
With displays and pictures artfully showing the gardens
In their Victorian and Edwardian heyday,

Before Arthur Lancelot Apperly, son of Sir Alfred and Lady Apperly of Rodborough Court, marched off to war, to be killed in action in 1916.
We returned to the Old Endowed School,
Once a chantry house,
Where masses were sung for the souls of the dead,
Seven hundred years ago –
It’s hard now to glimpse the shadows of sheep herds,
Or watch the wool on Cotswold packhorse routes,
En route to river, sea and then Flanders;
It’s hard to hear Rodborough’s coins jingling
In treasure chests sent south to Southampton,
For Rodborough’s feudal lord, the Abbey of Caen
(The chantry by now a secular store for
Mammon and the best Rodborough wool) –
France and England entwined,
Yet rent apart with the 100 Years’ War.

Two centuries later, the Tudor Reformation closed down
The chantries, abbeys and monasteries,
And the chantry building would become a parish workhouse;
Then a charitable school, then a state school,
Then a welcome village hall in the Great War,
Then a social club and place to pay your rates
In those Radio Times
Great Depression times
Between the wars –

And today, a place where people meet
(A quintessentially – seemingly – English occasion),
Trying to ignore the aftermath of the referendum,
A rus in urbe sequestered parish.

But the bright dawn didn’t last:
It always rains on Sundays:
Gurney’s Somme and the Severn are still conjoined.

(Artists exhibiting: Lucy Birtles, Ann-Magreth Bohl, Danny Evans, Julie Fowler, Kim Francis, Paul Grellier, Helen Lomberg, Hannah Mathison, Amanda Moriarty, Jim Pentney, Marion Mitchell, Dave King, Darren Rumley, Rebecca Simmons, Ian Rank-Broadley and Josef Kaspar)
(Jim included work on Gurney)

Money raised for:
Stroud Women’s Refuge;
Stroud Valleys Project;
The Old Endowed School.