RICHARD JEFFERIES SOCIETY
SPRING NEWSLETTER 2007
FROM THE CHAIR
As I start to write this introduction to our Spring offering for 2007, the encouraging news has just broken that Bath University is pulling out of its plan to build a new campus at Coate. The prospect of gaining a University was the carrot that persuaded the Swindon Councillors to agree also to the building of 1,800 houses in addition on the site, so it remains to be seen whether the tail can continue to exist without the dog. We shall, of course, be prepared to fight on to counter the inevitable next round of planning applications for the threatened area.
You will see from this newsletter that the Society continues to flourish; to be proactive in many ways; and to attract new members. It is through Richard Jefferies’ writings that most people come to join us, and it is therefore very much appreciated when individuals donate or bequeath Jefferies’ books to the Society to redistribute amongst the membership. The gifts from the widow of the late Alan Voce, and from the very much alive Sarah Horton, are listed in this Newsletter, and we expect, from our experience of previous donations, that members will take this opportunity to add to, or upgrade their existing collections. It will be noted that one of Alan’s books came, in turn, from Cyril Wright’s Library.
One of the topics, raised at the last AGM, which your Executive Committee is discussing this year, is the possibility of indexing Jefferies’ works. Although the use of word searches for specific nouns is now much easier with modern technology; there is no substitute for a thorough reading if concepts, ideas, feelings, and other more abstract expressions are to be listed. Another relevant problem concerns which edition should be used for indexing. Henry Williamson’s rearrangement of Hodge, for example, would be a definite non-starter! The ideal solution would be to publish a new complete collected uniform edition of Jefferies’ works, together with a copy of Edward Thomas’s biography (as suggested originally by Queenie Leavis) and ensure that these had indices. This project could then fulfil two aims; to ensure that Jefferies’ books were in print and available to new generations all over the world who need to discover him; and to make the works more accessible (via the index) to those with a scholarly interest. New introductions putting each volume in the context of the 21st Century could also be extremely valuable.
I would very much like to encourage members in the U.K. who have not visited Coate in the past few years, to seriously make an effort to do so sometime this year. The improvement to the grounds, and the replanting of the orchard with old varieties of fruit trees, are interesting enough; but the interior changes are quite outstanding. The new photographic displays, the additional museum items, and the folders of photographs, articles, and general background information in the meeting room, will very pleasantly surprise those who have not visited for a few years. The library, bookshop of low-cost Jefferies and related volumes; as well as the much greater range of leaflets and souvenirs, ensure that visitors now feel that this is a “living” museum – rather than a shrine. The prospect (at last) of a new tenant for the cottage should also mean a reduction in the vandalism that has affected the museum badly over the last few years, and provide some help with the cleaning and maintenance at the museum – all of which has been done by our energetic, enthusiastic, indefatigable, and increasingly very knowledgeable Secretary, Jean Saunders.
I do hope we shall see many of you at our meetings this year. Please also remember that we are always genuinely pleased to hear from members about anything; from your own Jefferies’ experiences or thoughts, to ideas about how your Society should be run. Now that most of our ordinary meetings are held at Coate, there is a much greater incentive and opportunity to meet one another, enjoy the meeting, and revisit “Jefferies’ Land”.
Finally, I should like to congratulate Brian Morris, one of our long-standing members, on the publication of Richard Jefferies and the Ecological Vision. Brian’s background as a writer, is probably nearer to that of Richard Jefferies than any other living member authors. His limited early formal education, and his love of the outdoors, led him to discover and appreciate Jefferies’ own writings and ideas in an empathetic way, and he has produced a most interesting volume.
BIRTHDAY LECTURE: ‘WILLIAM MORRIS AND THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE’ by MARTIN HAGGERTY 14th October 2006
Once again, it was pleasant to return to the Church Hall at Chiseldon for the Society’s Annual General Meeting and Birthday Lecture. Albeit that the building was over-heated and windows were thrown open to compensate, forty one people attended the event and the room was packed for the Birthday Lecture ably given by Martin Haggerty.
Whilst William Morris is mainly remembered as a designer and craftsman, Martin outlined Morris’s talents as a writer, essayist, prolific poet and the author of prose romances such as The Wood beyond the World and the utopian fantasy novel News from Nowhere, as well as a translator of Icelandic sagas. In 1883, he declared himself a socialist and was an extremely active propagandist for that cause as a public speaker and as the founder-editor of Commonweal, a political journal published by the Socialist League.
Martin presented a case for Morris to be considered as a country writer on the basis of his lectures, essays and articles which address rural issues, as well as his depiction of a hypothetical future England in News from Nowhere, and on his descriptions of landscape, farming and wildlife in other writing. In common with Richard Jefferies, Morris was also most familiar with the countryside of Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire.
Morris had no affection for the large towns and cities of Victorian Britain. "London and our other great commercial cities" are, he complained, "mere masses of sordidness, filth, and squalor, embroidered with patches of pompous and vulgar hideousness . . . and every little market-town seizes the opportunity to imitate, as far as it can, the majesty of the hell of London and Manchester" ('Art Under Plutocracy'). In Morris's lectures and journalism, the contrast between the city and the countryside is very pronounced and this is a continual theme. Typically each is described in relation to the other. Although deeply appreciative of nature, Morris regarded the English countryside primarily as a human environment.
Morris's "passionate love of the earth" finds its fullest and most eloquent expression in depictions of particular landscapes. For example, without being explicitly identified, the Wiltshire Downs feature in The Roots of the Mountains and The Water of the Wondrous Isles, as well as in The Well at the World's End which also uses various real locations in Oxfordshire.
Like Jefferies, Morris shows a serious concern for rural hardship and poverty. Morris dreamt of a future when "the great drama of the seasons can touch our workmen with other feelings than the misery of winter and the weariness of summer" ('The Prospects of Architecture in Civilization').
In Morris's later descriptions of the countryside, whether in his prose romances or in his journalism and lectures, there are enough correspondences with Jefferies to suggest that Morris had read not only After London but also some of Jefferies' other work, most probably the essays collected in the 1889 volume, Field and Hedgerow.
Immediately after the lecture, Martin distributed photocopies of 'Under an Elm-Tree; or, Thoughts in the Country-Side', first published in July 1889 as one of Morris's editorials for Commonweal, to exemplify Morris at his best as a country writer. Hopefully Martin will produce a paper on the subject of his lecture for a future edition of the Society’s Journal
FOOTSTEPS OF RICHARD JEFFERIES PROJECT
Last November, the Society submitted an application for a one year project to the National Lottery/Arts Council Awards for All grant. Just before Christmas, we were informed that our proposal had been accepted for funding. The grant is £9,200 and it will be used to advance three separate initiatives aimed at encouraging the local Swindon community to learn about, be inspired by and visit local places associated with Jefferies at Coate. The project will be based at the Jefferies’ museum and gardens and will partly explore the countryside nearby. The facilities will be available free-of-charge to the community and the project ends on 31st December 2007. News of the grant was given prominence in the local papers and BBC Radio on 29 January. This included an excellent eye-catching article in a free paper delivered to most homes in Swindon.
Writers workshops: Building on the success of the writers’ workshops for adults held in 2006, these will continue on the second Wednesday of the month until December 2007 from 10am to 4pm. In addition, local schools will be invited to special sessions. A pamphlet or pamphlets of works created by participants will be published. Society member Tony Hillier, a community development worker and poet, has been engaged to lead the workshops and to promote them.
Story-walks: Dedicated story-telling days will be organised, mainly for young children. Hilda Sheehan, a teacher and Society member, has adapted two extracts from Wood Magic, appropriately illustrated, that will be made available as a paperback. Relatively new to living in Swindon, but a keen poet, Hilda visited the Coate Museum in August 2006 only to be enthralled by the atmosphere of Jefferies’ house and gardens. She left with a copy of Wood Magic that captured her imagination. ‘The Weasel’s Story’ and ‘The Cunning Spider’ will be recounted whilst walking around the museum and grounds visiting places mentioned by Jefferies. Hilda is organising other activities for young children at the museum such as treasure trails. The walks event will be launched on Saturday 12 May. There will be two story telling sessions for children in the morning at 11am and one for adults at 2pm in the afternoon linked with the Swindon Literary Festival. Other sessions for children will be held on certain Sundays in the summer.
Coate Water walk: Mark Daniel’s guided walk around Coate Water booklet has been updated and published in colour along with a separate Coate Farm guide. Mark will lead a special walk to celebrate the occasion on Sunday 3rd June meeting at 11am in the car park of Coate Water Country Park. The walk will finish at the museum. Bring a picnic if you can come along. Refreshments will be provided at the museum.
Archives of the Richard Jefferies Society
On 2 December 2006, the Society held its first public meeting at the Coate Museum. We were delighted to be joined by a reporter and photographer from the Swindon Advertiser who recorded the event in an article dated 5th December.
Hitherto, the Society’s archives – dating back to 1949 – have been in the care of the Honorary Secretary. After the death of Cyril Wright they passed to Phyllis Treitel. Having housed them for ten years, she thought that for two reasons they should be held in professionally organised storage: for better preservation, and to facilitate access by members of the public, especially by Society members. The Wiltshire & Swindon Records Office, which has already taken charge of Henry Williamson’s letters (as President) to Mrs Frances Gay, agreed to accept this main archive.
So that current members should have some idea of what records are to be handed over, Phyllis brought the most important (about half) over for members to see. Boxes and files were placed on tables for examination. Of most interest were the six books of cuttings collected by Harold Adams and three more by Cyril Wright. Next in interest were the two boxes and two files of photographs. Minutes of committee meetings, and meetings open to the public (many hand-written) were the next category of interest. Finally, a group of files and boxes containing: J. B. Jones’s papers; a transcript of ‘Benn Tubbs Adventures’; Kate Tryon’s papers; the Delattre papers, including his Jefferies Saga Vols. I and II; and other research material. These will all be available for study to members at the WSRO and will soon be installed in the new purpose-built office in Chippenham.
A great many Society files that do not qualify as ‘records’ will be kept by the Hon. Sec. or placed in the Coate Museum.
The latest news on the archives is that on 5th January John d'Arcy, from the Wiltshire & Swindon Records Office, collected almost all the records that Phyllis held. Apparently, he seemed delighted. Eventually, there should be an inventory and Mr d’Arcy may return material not considered appropriate for their collection. In 2008 the Society hopes to organise a visit to the new Chippenham office.
Advance notice of the Society’s public meeting on Saturday 1 December. We will revisit a reading by Paul Casimir (a Swindon librarian) of his talk entitled 'Richard Jefferies and Other Writers' that was given to the Society in February 1956 which in his own words was “firstly, to examine the impression formed by others of the work of Jefferies; secondly, to trace the stylistic influences, if any, of Jefferies upon other writers; thirdly, to examine his thoughts and view of life”.
COATE FARM AND MUSEUM OPENING DATES 2007
Last year beat all records with 420 visitors on designated open days and there were an additional 265 visitors for special openings of the Museum. Heritage Day alone brought in over 70 visitors. This event was a good test for the strength of the floor-boards! In view of the success of Heritage Day, this year we plan to open the museum from 11am and add more activities.
The Museum is open on the second Wednesday of the month from 10am to 4pm throughout the year. The Sunday open dates from 2-5pm are set out below. Ideally, we aim to open the Museum every Sunday during these months but this would require more help from you. Any offers? Perhaps next year? Please contact the Hon. Sec.
6th May, 20th May, 3rd June, 17th June, 1st July, 15th July, 5th August, 19th August, 2nd September, 9th September (Heritage Day - 11am open) & 16th September.
If you haven’t visited the museum for some time, you should. There is now much more to see. Indeed, we are in need of more exhibition space. A special thank you to Society member Richard Burge who, in researching his own family tree, has supplied the Society with documents and newspaper copy about the Jefferies’ family. Some of this material is now on display at the Coate Museum.
RICHARD JEFFERIES’ TABLE
Among the visitors to the museum on 14th February, Jean Saunders was surprised to welcome her neighbours who live in Longcot. “We’ve come to visit our table”, announced Robert Baker. At which point the penny dropped when Jean remembered that Mr. L. Baker, now deceased, of Faringdon, had lent the gate-leg table on display in the attic to the museum in April 1982. “I thought that we had lost all trace of the owner,” remarked Jean.
The solid oak gate-leg table is known as ‘Richard Jefferies’ Table’ albeit that it belonged to his parents (not to be confused with Richard Jefferies’ writing table that is also on display in the attic). The table is described in the kitchen of the farmhouse in Round About a Great Estate (Ch II) as “an old oak table in the centre of the room –a table so solid that young Aaron, the strong labourer, could only move it with difficulty” and in Amaryllis at the Fair (Ch XXIII) as “the heavy oaken table, unpolished, greyish oak ... the old and clumsy table, village made and unpolished, except in so far as the stains of cooking operations had varnished it … the same table at which ‘Jearje,’ the fogger, sat every morning to eat his breakfast, and every evening to take his supper.”
Jefferies’ parents gave the table to John and Amelia Brown of Coate when their house and contents were sold. John Brown worked on Jefferies’ farm. Richard Jefferies wrote about him in “My Old Village” (published in October 1887) recounting John Brown’s death and his sadness at the news.
John Brown’s grand-daughter sold the table to Mr Lyn Baker of Highworth Road, Faringdon in 1971. Mr Baker bought it for his wife, Freda, a descendent of a cousin of Jefferies’ wife, Jessie Baden. Freda was also a member of the Richard Jefferies Society.
Robert remembers helping his father carry the heavy table to the museum in April 1982. For a while it had been at his house in Longcot. He pointed to a repair that had been undertaken and their efforts to find an old piece of oak fit for the job.
Robert Baker inherited his father’s possessions. Now he has extended the loan of the table to the Society in his own right, for which we are most grateful.
RICHARD JEFFERIES RUSSET
With recent cutting-taking and propagation of the Richard Jefferies Russet, its survival now seems assured. The Brogdale Trust near Canterbury, which maintains specimens of all English varieties, cannot match ours, and we are free to call it what we like, although any kind of Registration of Title would cost about £1000. This was not investigated further.
The original Russet Apple died about 1999, being replaced at that time by a scion taken from an earlier scion from the seventies and planted in Brighton. Unfortunately this, too, died, having been ring-barked in 2002, apparently by vandals. Another grafted cutting is being trained in Brighton to make a straight trunk. This should be ready for planting near the original site next spring.
In 2005 and 2006 further twigs were grafted and offered to people wanting their own tree, demand being widespread following a Country Life article. Richard Jefferies Russet trees now exist in Brighton, Reading, Calne, Wootton Bassett, Marlborough, Fairford (Glos), Blockley (Glos), Salterton (Devon), Lydiard Park, Swindon, and in the replanted orchard at Coate Farm.
In case of necessity, locations of some of the trees can be obtained from :
The Tree Register of the British Isles
77a Hall End
Beds. MK43 9HP
More on fruit trees at Coate Farm
Four brave souls from TWIGS (Therapeutic Work in Gardens) helped Jean plant ten more fruit trees in howling gales and rain on 19 January. The fruit trees were delivered bare-rooted and there was no choice but to get them in the ground as soon as possible. Cherry and plum trees have been planted in front of the house; a damson, Blenheim Orange apple, pear and cherry added to the orchard and more plums, pears and apples have been planted in what was part of Brook Field meadow next to the ha-ha wall. There is a new walnut tree as well donated by the Jefferies Land Conservation Trust. In all twenty fruit trees have been added to the gardens in the last year. Mark Daniel punched out lead labels to attach to the trees recording the variety, year of planting and the name of the person who supplied funding for the tree. The espalier pear “Doyenne Du Comice” was paid for by Andrew Rossabi whilst Helen Newman supplied the “Blenheim Orange” apple tree (another Jefferies favourite). Jean Saunders has supplied a “Lord Lambourn”. The two Richard Jefferies Russet apple trees planted in the orchard last year are doing well. These were paid for by John Webb and Stan Hickerton and were grown from cuttings taken from Mark Daniel’s tree in Brighton.
SUN INN PROPOSALS
Members who attended the last AGM might remember that Society officers had some concerns that Arkells Brewery proposed extending the Sun Inn pub, providing access to the Museum from their car park as well as managing the Jefferies’ gardens partly for their customers’ use. John Webb, John Price and Jean Saunders met with Arkells’ representatives on 26 October only to find out that Swindon Borough Council had misled the brewery into thinking that this was what we wanted! Once we made it clear that it had been illegal access from the pub garden that had caused much of the vandalism at Coate Farm, the suggestion was withdrawn. The Sun Inn hope to build twenty letting rooms that will abut the Jefferies’ gardens but it is anticipated that the design will be in keeping with the setting. No planning application has been submitted yet. The new landlord at the pub has been most congenial and helpful.
JEFFERIES LAND CONSERVATION TRUST
The Trust has continued to work hard in the Jefferies’ Museum gardens. One member described the task as “extreme gardening”. Steve Nethercot, a member of the Trust, succeeded in obtaining a grant of £500 from the company he works for (Royal & Sun Alliance) to buy more plants for the gardens. The Trust has donated a sun dial, a bird bath and the walnut tree. There are plans to plant a lavender hedge. The Trust also aims to address the appalling lack of direction markers to find the museum from Coate Water and organise the provision of road signs. An old gate found in the ancient hedge between Brook Field and Home Field might provide an ideal access point to the gardens from Coate Water taking visitors through a woodland walk. New bird nesting boxes and feeders have been put up although the squirrels are taking most of the nuts.
SAVE COATE CAMPAIGN
On 15th February, there was a surprising announcement from the University of Bath. Their Senate recommended that the university should pull out of the proposals for a campus at Coate supported by their governing body that met on 1st March. They cite two main reasons for their decision; a change in government’s funding arrangements for higher education and an inability to agree plans with the house builders. New archaeological studies have revealed extensive constraints that prevent development on the fields affected. Redrow Homes and Persimmon Homes don’t want to reduce their housing land quota and have reduced the allocation originally set aside for the campus. The house builders announced that they will submit a revised planning application in May and hope to start building 1,800 houses next year. They argue that as long as land is set aside for a university campus, they have met the requirements of the Swindon Local Plan, regardless of whether a university is ever built. The battle rages on. Your help will be needed to object to the new plans but there is now a real opportunity to save Coate! In the meantime, Swindon College has invited the University of Bath to join them at the North Star site located centrally next to Swindon railway and coach stations and, apparently, this proposition is now being considered seriously. As this was the original site announced for the preferred university campus in 2002, the University of Bath might have saved us a good deal of heartache.
RICHARD JEFFERIES’ BUST
Salisbury District Council lent their bust of Richard Jefferies to the Coate museum on 24 November 2006. It is pictured on the cover of the newsletter standing in its new home in the bay window of Jefferies’ sitting room. The bust is a replica of the marble sculpture by Margaret Thomas unveiled in Salisbury Cathedral in 1892. It is believed that Miss Thomas made about five plaster replicas. This unsigned copy of the cathedral bust appears to be the only one remaining. It belonged to Frederick Sutton, an Alderman and Mayor of Salisbury. In 1925 Mr Sutton presented the statue to Salisbury District Council where it stood in their Committee Room for over 80 years. It is now on permanent loan to the Museum. Society member, Steve Milton who is employed by Salisbury District Council will be accompanying a councillor to formally present the bust to the Museum on 2nd April. For more information about the cathedral bust see Journal No 13 pages 10-24.
COUNCIL OAK PLAQUE
The new Council Oak plaque was unveiled on 10th September – National Heritage Day - by Ray Morse and Terri Venables. Terri’s husband was a teacher at Dorcan Technical College who died suddenly after setting the wheels in motion to make the new plaque. The wording is the same as on the original plaque made by Cyril Wright:
THE COUNCIL OAK
DESCRIBED BY RICHARD JEFFERIES
BORN AT COATE IN 1848
IN HIS NOVEL ‘BEVIS THE STORY OF A BOY’
In addition, there is a small brass insert on the plaque in memory of John Venables. John Price read out the relevant extract from Bevis about the tree. The event was given prominence in the local paper quoting from the boys’ adventure story. Ray Morse was thanked for his help in obtaining the new plaque.
LISTING OF COATE FARM
Whilst the Jefferies Museum is designated as a Grade II listed building by English Heritage, the original description was inadequate and failed to mention out-buildings and features important to Jefferies’ writing. As such, the Society wrote to English Heritage, at the end of 2005, and provided detailed information asking for features to be specifically named that included the ha-ha wall, outbuildings, the main garden wall and Hawkes boundary stone. English Heritage visited Coate Farm not long after. Whilst it was deemed that the listing should not be upgraded, on 10th November 2006, the description was officially updated to include all the out-buildings and walls.
PUBLICITY & PUBLICATIONS
Richard Jefferies: A Spirit Illumined – 100 years of Redemption through Nature. A centenary symposium published by the Richard Jefferies Society in 1987. A hoard of copies of this A5 pamphlet were discovered at the Jefferies’ Museum last autumn. Originally on sale for £3.75, the booklet is on offer at £1 plus postage. 60 pages long, it includes photographs and illustrations of Jefferies and Coate Farm along with sixteen articles/poems that include those by Jeremy Hooker, Kim Taplin, Bill Keith, Christopher R. Milne, Edna Manning, Mark Daniel and Andrew Rossabi. Order through Norma Goodwin.
Guide to the Coate Museum and grounds. A 28 page A5 guide has been put together by the Society to add value to any visit to Jefferies’ birthplace. It is fully illustrated and published in colour and a valuable addition to any member’s book-shelf. The publication has been part-funded by the National Lottery and, as such, we are able to sell it at a subsidised price of £1 plus postage. Order through Mrs Goodwin.
John Webb has continued to supply the Swindon Advertiser with monthly extracts from Jefferies nature writing along with suitable photographs to illustrate the scene. The feature has now been running for a year and is normally given a full-page spread along with colour photographs. The editor of the local paper appears keen to keep the feature running this year. The publicity also provides the Society with an opportunity to remind the public of dates when the Museum is open.
CITINGS OF JEFFERIES
George Miller drew attention to an exhibition showing in Owestry: ANDY GOLDSWORTHY; EARLY WORKS FROM THE ARTS COUNCIL COLLECTION - Hayward Gallery Touring Exhibition. Goldsworthy is another contemporary artist who has found inspiration in Richard Jefferies' words, not surprising perhaps, given the 'heightened experience' of nature he celebrates. The exhibition is accompanied by a two volume book of ideas, influences and responses relating to his work. Part one contains a lengthy quote from 'Out of Doors in February'. Part two consists mainly of quotes from letters and diaries of writers on nature from Gilbert White to D H Lawrence. There are 13 extracts from Jefferies' Nature Diaries and Notebooks. Enquiries about Hayward Gallery touring exhibitions: 020 7921 0837. www.hayward.org.uk
Jean Saunders spotted this in the Toronto Star – “If our global civilization dies, what's left to replace it? - by Ronald Wright.
The faster the hands began to move on the clock of progress, the more writers and thinkers began to ask themselves Paul Gauguin's question: Where are we going? If so much was happening so quickly before their eyes, what might happen in the future? Butler, H.G. Wells, William Morris, Richard Jefferies, and many others developed a new literary form that could present their imaginings to a broad reading public: a blend of fantasy, satire, and allegory that became known as the "scientific romance."
Eric Jones found the following articles that mention Jefferies which may be read for free on the LookSmart Find Articles website: http://findarticles.com . The articles include:
Mark Freeman, ‘Folklore Collection and Social Investigation in late nineteenth and early twentieth century England’, Folklore April 2005 (this lists four books by Jefferies and contains a long quotation from Red Deer).
Stephen Wade, ‘”The glory of education”: one hundred years of the Workers’ Educational Association’, Contemporary Review November 2003 (this says that Leonard Bast in E. M. Forster, Howard’s End , saw enlightenment in the ‘impassioned prose’ of Jefferies – ‘and of course Ruskin’).
John Knight, ‘In Hardy Country’, Contemporary Review, January 2001.
Eric Jones also found that BlogPulse, one of the main blog tracking sites, has 29 entries for Richard Jefferies. One entry was in Adrian Monck’s blog dated 2 December 2006. He is a British journalism professor and writer on the media and current affairs. Prof Monck describes Jefferies as “probably my favourite journalist and writer of English prose” and quotes the opening paragraphs of a ‘Walk in the Wheatfields’ to illustrate his point.
In The Guardian September 16, 2006, Robert MacFarlane celebrates the writing and wild life enthusiasms of the environmentalist Roger Deakin, author of the bestselling Waterlog: A Swimmer's Journey Through Britain who died in August aged 63. MacFarlane writes:
"In its poetry, its ecological conscience, and its visionary quality, Waterlog should be understood as belonging to a tradition of English land-art which includes the sculptors David Nash and Peter Randall-Page, as well as writers such as Ronald Blythe, Richard Jefferies and John Clare."
In the Spring 2007 edition of The Glass there is a short paper entitled ‘Prophecy and Utopia: Richard Jefferies and the Transcendalists’ by Roger Ebbatson.
John Price mentioned a new edition of a National Trust book “Wild Flowers” that includes a quotation from Jefferies’ Life of the Fields that describes Germander Speedwell.
Thought for the Day – 21st September 2006 International News, Australia: "The very idea that there is another idea is something gained." – Richard Jefferies, English author (1848-1887).
Patrick Gray refers to a little book that his mother owned as a young girl: Selected English Essays that includes Jefferies’ ‘Meadow Thoughts’ alongside English classical writers such as Defoe, Lamb, Swift and Fielding. The book was reprinted by Oxford University Press in 1930.
On 4 January BBC Points West broadcast an interview with Society member and community poet Tony Hillier. The film was shot at the Jefferies Museum and highlighted Tony’s passion to inspire the community to write poetry. Filmed under the mulberry tree and in the “parlour”, short extracts of poetry were read out that included the opening lines to Jefferies’ poem ‘The Mulberry Tree’. Unfortunately viewers were not informed that the filming took place at the museum nor was Jefferies mentioned by name.
BOOKS and PAMPHLETS.
Heidegger's Bicycle by Prof Roger Ebbatson. Published by Sussex Academic Press, £16.99 (softcover);1-84519-105-6. It contains a chapter on Jefferies and Hardy.
Isambard’s Kingdom: Travels in Brunel’s England by Judy Jones. Published by Sutton Publishing, £17.99. Judy, a writer and journalist who lives in Wiltshire, describes her walk from Paddington to Penzance tracking the route of the great Western Railway. She mentions a most interesting visit to the Coate Museum when she was shown round by Chris Bowles and expresses her concern about the proposed development next to Coate Water.
Richard Jefferies and the Ecological Vision by Brian Morris. 455 pages; quality trade paperback (softcover); catalogue #06-1584; ISBN 1-4120-9828-9; US$29.48, C$33.90, EUR24.21, £16.95 Morris demonstrates that Jefferies was a pioneer ecologist. Available from Trafford Publishing online at Trafford.com/06-1584 or call 1-888-232-4444 (USA and Canada only) or 250-383-6864. From Europe, ring the UK order desk clerk at local rate number 0845 230 9601 (UK only) or 44 (0)1865 722 113. Brian Morris has been invited to give this year’s Birthday Lecture.
HOW DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER RICHARD JEFFERIES AND THE SOCIETY?
Stuart Eagles writes: “I came to Jefferies through Ruskin and Morris. All of them share a love and appreciation of nature which informs their vision of life. ‘Vision’ – because their collective mission as writers, it seems to me, is to see, in the truest sense.” How did you discover that the RJS existed? “A distant relative, Sheila Povey of Swindon, first made me aware of the Society – and, much more surprisingly, of a distant family connection to the man himself. Invested with such reasons to join the Society, this year I have finally got around to it, and I am delighted to be a member of such an important group – and thanks to the developers, at such a crucial time!”
Chris Partis read an article about the proposed Coate development in the Telegraph; how it would ruin the whole Coate area and the implications for Jefferies' writing. He writes: "The small biography of Richard Jefferies that followed the article was enough to stir my interest and I decided there and then that I would look further into the life and work of the man. A man ahead of his time".
Mr Partis discovered the RJS via the Edward Thomas Fellowship’s newsletter. “I’ve just finished reading At Home on the Earth, a great selection of the later writings of RJ selected and introduced by Jeremy Hooker, and I must admit that my interest and admiration has grown even more. Needless to say I’m now trying to collect everything RJ wrote".
Dennis Cross mentioned to our Chairman that he was a professional ice-skater and performed at Richmond ice-rink. He bought a copy of Life of the Fields and would read essays whilst waiting to perform. Perhaps Mr Cross might enjoy reading ‘A Midnight Skate’ published in the RJS Journal No 4 pp 10-16 ?
Wendy Spence believes that she has always known about Richard Jefferies. “Living with my maternal grandparents during WW2 and onwards until 8 years of age, my most fragrant memories are of wandering with my Nan in deepest Surrey. We were surrounded by chestnut and hazel woods. A little further afield were bluebell and primrose copses surrounding the meadows, full of flowers and farm animals roaming freely. I learnt so much from my love for everything ‘natural’. We were always picnicking and gathering something that ended with an ‘ing’ (wood…, blackberry…, chestnut…) etc. I remember the name Bevis very well during this time – no doubt on their bookshelves. My adult rekindling was of being loaned a book of poems, including one by Richard Jefferies, which captivated me. Words describing ‘being at one with the tiny blades of grass in a meadow, moving in the unseen wind’. I returned the book and time moved on. Earlier this year, I read an article in a magazine on places to visit of interest. The article included the Richard Jefferies Museum. This time I was not letting the opportunity pass by. I rang the local Tourist Information Office, who sent me details, including the Secretary’s address and museum times of opening. I made contact and am now a Member, beginning a journey of discovery.”
NEWS FROM OTHER SOCIETIES
Alliance of Literary Societies’ Annual General Meeting
This year The Tolkien Society will host the ALS AGM that will be held on May 19-20th The talks about Tolkien and the AGM taking place on the Saturday morning will be held at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. There will be a walk tour of Tolkien’s Oxford in the afternoon. On Sunday morning a visit is planned to ‘The Oxford Story’ that examines 900 years of Oxford University’s history. Further details from Helen Newman or the Hon Sec. The registration deadline is set at 31st March.
The Richard Jefferies Society will be hosting the Annual General Meeting of the ALS in 2008 in Swindon. Plans are already underway for the weekend of 17-18 May to raise the profile of Jefferies and Coate. Hugoe Matthews will give the keynote address about Jefferies. A novel event is being planned for the Sunday that will include a literary treasure hunt based on Jefferies' favourite local haunts. The Society will be trialling a dry run of the treasure hunt this year. As yet, a date is not set.
Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Society
We have tickets which enable our members to visit, and make use of the facilities of the Museum at Devizes. If you would like to borrow a ticket, please apply to John Price. Telephone 01672 515150.
The Friends of the Ridgeway
Phyllis Treitel informs us that the National Environment and Community Bill is now law. Five years ago 45 miles of the 85-mile long Ridgeway were legally accessible to motor vehicles. Now only 3 miles of it are open to them all the year round, viz. from Fox Hill to Bishopstone (Swindon Borough Council please put this right). Vehicles will still be seen in places, but the main object has been achieved. Congratulations to Ian Ritchie.
News from the past: the first ever manned balloon flight is said to have taken place in 1824; George Graham took off from Bath and landed near Ramsbury, having flown over the Ridgeway.
News for today: a new YHA bunkhouse has opened at Cliffe Pypard. It is popular with overseas guests from Europe, America, Australia, New Zealand, Iran and Samoa. YHA members £11.00 night.
Friends’ AGM at the Ridgeway Centre, near Wantage, 25 March 2007.
The Friends of Alfred Williams are pleased to announce that in January 2007 Sutton Publishing republished Alfred Williams' book Life in a Railway Factory which was first published in 1915. It has been produced in soft back format (ISBN 978 0750 946 605) at £14.99 and is available from all good book sellers or by mail order from Ian Allen. Publishing, telephone number 01455 254450.
The Edward Thomas Fellowship.
April 14th & 15th, 2007 Celebration of the 90th anniversary of Edward's death with a weekend of events at Bedales School, Steep.
November 2007 The Fellowship is planning a visit to Agny, Arras, Somme and Ypres.
Contact: Colin G. Thornton, 1, Carfax, Undercliff Drive, St. Lawrence, Isle of Wight PO38 1XG. Telephone:01983 853366.
The Loughton Festival
31st March- 1st April 2007. This will be the first year for the festival that was conceived last spring. The event is being organised on a very tight budget and aims to celebrate Loughton's literary heritage. Speakers are drawn from the John Clare and Tennyson Societies and the Edward Thomas Fellowship. There will also be a talk about Arthur Morrison at the church where he is buried: The Church of the Holy Innocents, High Beach. There will be a walk on 1st April which will start with an introduction to the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge, at Chingford. After a walk through Epping Forest, the walkers will arrive at the Suntrap in High Beach, which is one of the sites of the asylum where John Clare and also Tennyson were patients. Contact: Sue Taylor, 020 8508 2512 for more information or Jean Saunders can supply a leaflet.
John Clare DVD- A photographic journey with Peter Moyse.
The film features photographs of Clare’s countryside and includes selected readings of his poetry and prose with reflections on his life and writing by Ronald Blythe and Edward Storey. It is described as “A brilliant introduction to Clare’s life and writing”.
Proceeds go to the John Clare Society and the John Clare Trust. £11.99 including postage in the UK, £12.99 for Europe and £13.99 elsewhere. Orders to: John Clare Sales Officer, 8 Massey Road, Lincoln, LN2 4BN.
STUDY DAY: CHILDREN’S LITERATURE IN JEFFERIES’ DAY
SATURDAY 28 JULY 2007
RICHARD JEFFERIES MUSEUM, COATE
10.30 Doors open and refreshments.
11.00 Individual contributions by members (up to 5 minutes each). *
12.30-2.00 Lunch break. Time to look around the Museum or Coate Water. Meals available at the Sun Inn or bring a packed lunch.
Helen Newman: Victorian Children’s Literature
Andrew Rossabi: Richard Jefferies and the Classics
* Guidance Please name and discuss one book or writer, of Jefferies’ day, that did, or could, influence Jefferies, directly or indirectly. The list is very long.
Reading. W. J. Keith RJS Journal No 2
Jonathan Calder RJSJ No 6
Peter Hunt RJSJ No 7
John Savage RJSJ No 10
We shall display copies of contemporary children’s books. If you have any, bring them along – all authors.
Please would you inform the secretary if you are able to attend in order to organise seating and refreshments.
There is free parking at Coate Water Country Park and limited parking at the Museum and Day House Lane. Parking is also allowed at the Sun Inn, particularly so if taking luncheon there.
RICHARD JEFFERIES SOCIETY PUBLICATIONS FOR SALE AND LOAN
The full list of publications available can be found in the Autumn Newsletter and Annual Report for 2006. The following changes should be noted:
The new colour booklet of the guided walk around Coate Water by Mark Daniel is now available free courtesy of the National Lottery.
The new colour Coate Museum guide – 28pp A5 – is available at a subsidised price of £1.
Richard Jefferies: A Spirit Illumined is now available for £1.
The stock of paperback copies of The Story of my Heart is now exhausted.
Electronic books on CD for sale
See list of books previously scanned on page 35 of the Autumn newsletter 2006. Wood Magic, Dewy Morn and The Old House at Coate have been recently added. Copies of the CD Rom are available for £5 including postage. The scanning errors in the text of The Scarlet Shawl have now been corrected and the file put into A5 format enabling owners to print off their own version of the book.
Orders should be sent to Mrs. Norma Goodwin, Wildings, 3a Momford Road, Oliver’s Battery, Winchester SO22 4LE. Cheques should be made payable to the ‘Richard Jefferies Society’ although small orders can be paid for by postage stamps.
Postage: For the UK add 25p for orders up to £1; add 50p for orders up to £2 : add 75p for orders £2 and over.
Outside Europe, please contact Norma to find out postage cost.
Copies of the video, JEFFERIES LAND, may still be obtained, price £10, from John Webb, Padbrook, Bincknoll Lane, Wootton Bassett, Wilts SN4 8QR. Cheques to ‘John Webb’. John also houses the Society’s complete library of books that can be borrowed by members. For more information phone John on 01793 853171.
Second-hand books John Price has a good stock of second-hand Jefferies books for sale. Contact him on 01672 515150. There is also a supply of cheaper volumes on sale at the museum.
Please note that the Jefferies Museum is not easy to find – there are no signposts until you arrive. The main entrance is opposite the petrol station on the Marlborough Road and next to the Sun Inn public house off the Coate Water roundabout. Car-parking is free at Coate Water Country Park – only 3 minutes walk away (there is an entrance to the garden by the ha-ha wall from Brook Field if you follow the Great Hedge). The landlord at the Sun Inn is happy for museum visitors to use his car park. There is limited parking at the Museum and along Day House Lane.
From Swindon town centre there are several bus services that stop next to Coate Water roundabout. These include: Monday to Saturday - daytime: Numbers 10, 12, 13, 14 and 21. Monday to Saturday - evenings: Numbers 12, 13 and 14..
PROGRAMME OF MEETINGS AND EVENTS 2007
Saturday 3 March* Joint meeting with the Friends of Alfred Williams to share readings.
Saturday 14 April* The Man on the Hill The showing of a two-part documentary film made by HTV in 1987 as part of the Jefferies’ centenary celebrations. Readings by Paul Scofield.
Saturday 12 May* The Weasel’s Story a walking story-telling event by Hilda Sheehan adapted from Wood Magic and in partnership with the Swindon Literary Festival. Children’s session at 11am.
Sunday 3 June Walk Around Coate Water with Mark Daniel. Meet outside the Rangers’ Centre in Coate Water car park at 11am. Bring picnic. Refreshments at the Museum. Museum also open at 2pm.
Saturday 28 July STUDY DAY. ‘Children’s Literature in Jefferies’ Day’. 10.30am to 4.30pm. Jefferies Museum at Coate.
Sunday 9 September Heritage Open Day at the Museum 11am-5pm
Saturday 13 October Annual General Meeting and Birthday Lecture. Liddington Church Hall. Details in the next newsletter. Brian Morris will be giving the Birthday Lecture on “Richard Jefferies: the Pioneer Ecologist”.
Saturday 1 December* Reading of Paul Casimir’s (a former Swindon librarian) paper entitled 'Richard Jefferies and Other Writers' that was originally given in February 1956.
* Meetings begin at 2.00pm at the Jefferies museum unless otherwise stated. See direction map on the previous page. The Museum will be open from 1.00pm on meeting days. Refreshments provided. Entrance free.
* Meetings begin at 2.00pm at the Jefferies museum unless otherwise stated. See direction map on the previous page. The Museum will be open from 1.00pm on meeting days. Refreshments provided. Entrance free.