Sunday, May 19, 2013

Edward Thomas, Adlestrop and trees

Adlestrop railway station
Yes, we all remember 'Adlestrop' - the one  Edward Thomas poem everybody knows and possibly the nation's favourite poem still, in spite of 'Stop all the clocks' and Frost's 'Stopping By Woods.....'
There are still trees - those willows and in imagination  the trees beyond, where 'all the birds of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire' are singing.

 Adlestrop is the archetypal "Edward Thomas poem" , the poetry that has elicited tributes from other poets: Elected Friends:Poems for and about Edward Thomas', Anne Harvey 1991  and recently 'Branchlines', edited by Guy Cuthbertson and Lucy Newlyn. Anne Harvey has done marvellous work on the Adlestrop story.
(Anne's  'Adlestop Revisited' (Henry Sutton, 1999) . This year on the 23th June she and the Friends of The Dymock Poets organised a celebration. of the event with a train halting briefly and Robert Hardy reading the poem.

In brief, Edward and Helen,  on the 23rd June attended  the Russian - Diaghelev - ballet in London. Next day they set off for Ledbury by train to organise the summer lodgings near the Frosts' in Leddington, the Oldfield Farm lodging where the first section of my novel is set. Later he recollected it:

'He was confined to bed, quite immobile. Helen had to do everything for him. A fine beginning to the New Year! A last visit to the Frosts at Ryton had to be cancelled; no one came to see him, not even Eleanor or his mother. The most he could do was crawl from his bed and sit in a deck-chair in the bedroom, where the east window looked out on the wintry garden. There he could at least write; he wrote about a ploughman he knew who’d been killed in France, and about the time last June when their train to Ledbury stopped at a station with an odd name – Adlestrop.'

Adlestrop is  a pretty Cotswold village in Gloucestershire, near Stow-on-the -Wold and Chipping Norton. The Edward Thomas Fellowship has circulated information about the village's Open Day, June 16th. The information and a link is below.

But first,


Yes, I remember Adlestrop --
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop -- only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

I'm afraid this is past-

Adlestrop Open Day

Sunday 16th June, 12.00 - 5.00 p.m.

Enjoy a potentially golden afternoon in Adlestrop, one of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds. Browse around the village’s beautiful and varied gardens and the thirteenth-century church (hosting a floral display), and inspect the thoroughbred horses at the racing stables. Enjoy hearty ploughman’s lunches and delicious tea and cakes at the Village Hall and buy an ice cream from the thatched Post Office. It is also an opportunity to see the platform and sign of the railway station (now closed) which inspired Edward Thomas's most famous poem. The Adlestrop Open Day also includes the usual features of a village fete: stalls offering bric-a-brac, plants or home-made produce, plus a shire-horse display and a dog show, as well as a raffle to enter and prizes from the tombola stall.

Entry is £4.00 per adult, children free. Car-parking is also free. All proceeds from this event will benefit Adlestrop Church and Village Hall plus the Blue Cross.

Adlestrop is situated about 3 miles from Stow-in-the-Wold and 6 miles from Chipping Norton, and is just half a mile off the A436.

Further information is available at Any enquiries should be made to Victoria Huxley: or 01608 - 658 758.
Adlestrop railway station
The name-sign on the platform of the former railway station at Adlestrop

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