Saturday, November 25, 2006

Coate Farm out-buildings better protected by law

Today, the Richard Jefferies Society is celebrating the news that Elaine Pearce, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has authorised a new listing description for the Richard Jefferies Museum at Coate that would better serve to protect the out-buildings and built features in the grounds of the old farm.

The Society wrote to English Heritage in late 2005 when they discovered that the description of the Grade II listed building on the Marlborough Road, that was first designated as such in October 1951,only mentioned the old thatched cottage and museum and not the other farm buildings and man-made structures that were so important to the Victorian author’s writing [1]. Specifically the group requested that the old barn, dairy, the pig-sties, the ha-ha wall [2] and the main garden wall along with a field boundary marker stone were included in the description.

The Society were delighted to learn that their request had been fully investigated and their wishes granted [3].

A spokesperson for the Richard Jefferies Society said:

“Over thirty years ago we were fund-raising to restore the farm-buildings that the owners, Swindon council, planned to demolish although by this time, the thatched cow-sheds and hay-rick barn had already gone. At that time we were helped by celebrities such as John Betjeman and Spike Milligan who were enthusiastic Jefferies’ fans.

"Visitors to the Museum are so thrilled when they can look at features and buildings that they have read about. For example, there is a square drain in the ha-ha wall where Jefferies describes watching wildlife shelter. We are delighted with the news that what remains might now be better protected.”

The Jefferies Museum will be open on Wednesday 13th December from 10am to 4pm. The Richard Jefferies Society is holding a meeting at the Jefferies Museum on Saturday 2nd December at 2pm when there will be an opportunity for people to delve into some of the archive files that the Society has built up over the last 50 years or more Both events are free and open to the public. More information from Jean Saunders, Secretary of the Society, on 01793 783040.


Editor’s notes:

[1] Richard Jefferies was born at Coate Farm near Swindon on 6th of November 1848. The author spent his childhood exploring Coate Water and the local fields and woods, observing wildlife and nature with an enquiring eye. The area around his home at Coate has been known for years as “Jefferies Land”. It has become a place of pilgrimage for generations of readers. Jefferies had a great exhilaration for life. His unique expression of his relationship to nature has won him a secure place in the hearts of imaginative people. He has been described as a “many sided genius”. Historians cite him as an authority on agriculture and rural life in Victorian England. Major studies of mysticism have anthologised his work and discussed his ideas. He wrote one of the great novels for boys, as well as several highly original novels for adult readers. He is recognised as one of the greatest nature writers in the language and he topped a Guardian 2005 poll for favourite country writers.

[2]pictures removed

[3] Copy of the English Heritage listing dated 10 November 2006

SU 18 SE





Richard Jefferies Museum II

A C17 farmhouse with an adjoining early C19 house, now used as a museum.

EXTERIOR: The C17 house is built of limestone rubble with a thatched roof and brick gable stack. The low, one storey building, with attic above, has a two-bay east front with a central entrance porch (added later) and an early C19, slate cat slide extension to the south and west ends. The early C19 farmhouse is attached to its west. It is a three storey building constructed of Flemish bond brickwork with a slate roof, with brick chimney stacks at both gable ends. The north front has three bays with an entrance left of centre comprising a six-panelled door with splayed stone lintel, flanked to the left by a hipped bay window with twenty-pane sashes and to the right by a three-light leaded timber window with a splayed stone lintel. Above the entrance on first floor level is a two-light leaded timber window flanked on either side by three-light leaded windows, all with splayed stone lintels. Above the latter at attic level are two smaller three-light leaded timber windows. The rear of the house to the south has scattered fenestration, and the west gable end has two-light timber windows to the right on first floor and attic level.

INTERIOR: The C17 farmhouse has been significantly altered and restored in the C19 and C20. The early C19 house has panelled window reveals on ground and first floor levels. There is a contemporary inlaid slate fireplace on ground floor level and In the first floor bed room a timber fire surround with grate and a built-in six-panelled wardrobe.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: The garden, orchard and farmyard at the Richard Jefferies Museum, enclosed by a stone wall along Marlborough Road (moved and rebuilt in the mid C20), contain a series of outbuildings and structures dating from the C19 some incorporating earlier fabric possibly

dating from the C17 or C18, including a dairy (re-roofed in the mid C20), a barn with a stable (and hayloft above), a pigsty, a workshop, a garden bothy, a ha ha and a boundary stone (the latter was moved from elsewhere on the former estate).

HISTORY: The farmstead, originating from the C17 and formerly known as Coate Farm, is the birthplace of the nature writer Richard Jefferies (1848-1887)and which is thought to have formed the main inspiration for his books. In the mid C20 it became the Richard Jefferies Museum.

SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: The Richard Jefferies Museum is a C17 farmhouse with an adjoining early C19 house and associated outbuildings and structures, forming an interesting historic farmstead. The various buildings show how this farmstead evolved over time, and it is also an interesting surviving example of a group of vernacular buildings on the outskirts of Swindon. Additionally, the farmstead is the birthplace of the nature writer Richard Jefferies (1848-1887), and together with its surrounding landscape, in particular the Coate Water Reservoir, it formed the main inspiration for Jefferies books, including Bevis and Amaryllis at the Fair.


M Daniel, 'Return to Jefferies' Country' in Country Life, 12 December 1974;

B Cherry and N Pevsner, The Buildings of England (1985 2nd edn), p 516;

J Chandler, Coate and Richard Jefferies (2005);

1st edition Ordnance Survey, surveyed 1878, published 1882;

P.G. Herring Jefferies Farm, Coate, Wilts, a plan of the farmstead by Beauchamp (1923).

Dated:- 10th November 2006

Signed by authority of the Secretary of State ELAINE PEARCE

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Monday, October 09, 2006



[NB INTERNET VERSION – ALL PICTURES REMOVED and page references do not apply]

The Richard Jefferies Society (Registered Charity No 1042838) was founded in 1950 to promote appreciation and study of the writings of Richard Jefferies (1848-1887).

Membership is open to all on payment of the current annual subscription (£7 single, £8 couple).

Members receive spring and autumn newsletters, an annual report and a Journal and can take advantage of the Society’s extensive library. Activities include winter meetings, a study day, special outings, events, a Birthday Lecture and an Annual General Meeting.


Margaret Evans, Brian Fullagar, Geoff Hirst, Eric Jones, Hugoe Matthews, Ray Morse, Helen Newman, John Price, Jean Saunders, John Savage, Richard Stewart, Phyllis Treitel, John Webb.

Co-opted: Simon Coleman, Norma Goodwin and Stan Hickerton.

President Hugoe Matthews

Hon. Secretary Jean Saunders
Pear Tree Cottage, Longcot, Faringdon, Oxon SN7 7SS.
Tel. 01793 783040



Page From the Chair
From the Membership Secretary and Secretary
Reports of winter meetings
Stone Readings
Study Day report
Storing the Journal
Coate Farm and Museum Report
Jefferies’ family christening cloak
Save Coate campaign and the Jefferies Land Conservation Trust
Bevis in the life of a New Zealand Scientist
Here Ends Coate Road
More on Forty-Folds
Williamson-Gay letters
Publicity and Publications
For Internet Users
Citings of Jefferies
How did you discover Jefferies?
Alliance of Literary Societies AGM
News from other Societies

Birthday Lecture

Publications for sale and loan
Contents list of RJS Journals
Meetings 2006-7


It may have come as a surprise to many members to discover that the smaller envelope arriving through your letterbox was this year’s Autumn Newsletter and Annual Report. The reason for the new format is that the Post Office introduced a new system of charging by size and weight on 21st August this year, and the adjustment in size was necessary to prevent a steep increase in postage costs. The contents are unaffected, but A5 and thicker, is significantly cheaper than A4 and thinner!

You will all be aware from Newsletters, how much Jean, our Secretary, has been doing in the way of fighting the Coate development proposals; and taking every possible initiative and opportunity to gain grant aid support for enhancing the Birthplace Museum and its surroundings. What you will not realise, however, unless you have recently visited Coate, is how much she has also done to improve the interior of the Museum. There are now attractive and informative displays and reference collections in the downstairs study room; the windows and floors are clean; there are books for display, loan and purchase; and refreshments are always available for those meeting in, working in, or just visiting the Museum. The transformation of the grounds is almost miraculous; with overgrown, weedy borders now attractively planted out with bedding and perennial plants and shrubs, and seats available for visitors on the lawn at the back. The new fruit trees in the orchard have established well, despite the dry summer, and are already bearing their first produce.
John Webb too, has contributed enormously to the new ambience. In addition to his marvellous photographic displays in place of the old dead grasses and disintegrating insects; amongst other projects, he has put up a new handrail on the stairs, repaired the front door lock, and put up shelving units in the kitchen area. Coate farmhouse is now, once again, a living welcoming environment, and is no longer an embarrassment as a Museum. This, however, is entirely due to the efforts of Officers of the Society, and other members; and nothing, shamefully, has been forthcoming from Swindon Borough Council, despite numerous meetings and requests.

We now hold our Executive Council Meetings at the Museum – which is appropriate and right.
For me, the Spring and Summer has been a period of pleasant discoveries with regard to Jefferies’ matters: finding a new letter from Charles Longman to RJ; tracking down some further photographs of the Coate area taken in about 1900 – less than 15 years after Jefferies’ death; listening again to Frank Bridge’s compositions inspired by RJ; and taking part in a regional BBC TV programme “Write Across the West”, filmed at Coate.

The letter from Longman (dated 1883), I found tucked inside a first edition of The Dewy Morn in a Charing Cross Road bookshop. It will be printed in due course in the Journal, with a commentary on its literary and historical context.

The photographs were part of a series taken by Clifton Jones, 25 of which were included in the 1903 US edition of Wild Life in a Southern County, retitled An English Village. I discovered that the Clifton Jones archive is held by an American university, and they possess 10 photographs of the Coate area, taken at the same time, which were not published. Copies have been ordered for our records.

I rediscovered the Frank Bridge through a recently available recording of his Two Poems for Orchestra. These are on the Naxos label, and played by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Judd. Bridge wrote his Two Poems in 1915, drawing inspiration from Richard Jefferies. The first Poem is a gentle pastoral piece with a superscription from The Open Air. “Those thoughts and feelings which are not sharply defined, but have a haze of distance and beauty about them, are always the dearest”.

The second, and in some ways more surprising, piece is much more light-hearted and joyous, and is inspired by The Story of my Heart. The quotation in the superscription here is one that many, I suspect, would not immediately recognise: “How beautiful a delight to make the world joyous! The song should never be silent, the dance never still, the laugh should sound like water which runs forever”. The Two Poems play for 11 minutes in total and are accompanied on the CD by The Sea (Suite), and Enter Spring (Rhapsody).

Most recently, we were approached by “Points West”, our regional BBC TV station, to help make a short film about the Coate area. Amanda Parr, one of the presenters, was fronting a series about West Country authors, including Coleridge, Jane Austen, Laurie Lee, and Thomas Hardy, the intention being to describe a walk in the countryside associated with each author. Each programme lasted 3 minutes – although “ours” took most of a day to film. The feature showed the Museum, inside and out, and part of Coate Water including the Council Oak. Unfortunately, the Society was not referred to either in the programme, or on the associated website; and although I complained about this omission, nothing subsequently was done or said to rectify the situation.

Finally, I should like to refer to one of our members of many years standing, who, sadly, died earlier this year. Ken Cavalot, who lived in the Midlands, had contacted me just before Christmas about helping to downsize his Jefferies and Alfred Williams library. Unfortunately, he passed away before the book sale was completed, at auction, but he did donate some volumes to the Society for sale at the Museum. The intriguing point that emerged from one of my many telephone conversations with him in the new year, was that as a young man, he was so inspired by Richard Jefferies and his writing, that he cut a sod of turf from Liddington Hill, and walked to Sussex, sleeping in hedgerows along the way, to place the turf on Jefferies’ grave. I asked Ken to write a short account of his pilgrimage for the newsletter, but unfortunately he died before the task was undertaken. I am only too pleased that he did manage to give me some account of the event, so that it could be recorded here; a note of the achievement of one individual, amongst the rich and fascinating community of our membership.

John Price

A warm welcome is extended to the new members who have joined the Society since last September:

Mr J Bainbridge, Teignmouth, Devon
Mr B Burrows, Swindon, Wiltshire
Mr E Clark, Horton, Wiltshire
Mr J A Crow, Rochester, Kent
Mr T Hillier & Ms K Skelton, Swindon
Jefferies Land Conservation Trust, c/o Longcot, Oxon
Mrs W Macleod-Gilford, Lambourn, West Berkshire
Mr & Mrs P Maynard, Hilmarton, Wiltshire
Mr & Mrs R Roys, Wheldrake, Yorkshire
Mr D Schwartz, London
Mrs E C Spickernell, Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire
Mr C J O Syer, The Lee, Buckinghamshire
Miss J M Webb, Parkstone, Dorset
Mrs N K Webb, Toothill, Swindon

The total membership during the 2005/06 subscription year numbered 279 being made up of 171 single, 31 joint (62 members), 27 Life, 5 Joint Life (10 members), 3 Hon Life, 1 Hon Life Joint (2 members) and 4 Corporate memberships.
At the time of writing the 2006/07 membership is 275 This takes account of 2 members having resigned at the end of, and 6 paid-up members having sadly passed away during the 2005/06 membership year; plus 4 new members during the 2006/07 membership year.
Although most members live in England, other countries are represented: Australia 4, Belgium 1, Canada 4, the Channel Islands 1, Eire 1, Germany 2, New Zealand 1, Northern Ireland 3, Scotland 6, Spain 1, Tasmania 1, the USA 4, Wales 9.
At present 45 members (8 of whom are Joint) have not yet paid their 2006/07 subscriptions. Gentle reminders will accompany their mailing of the Annual Report in the hope that they will now bring their membership up-to-date. In anticipation, many thanks.
Margaret Evans

It is somewhat daunting putting together my first newsletter for the Society. My headmaster once wrote in my school report that “Jean expresses herself forcefully if not elegantly”. Forty five years later, nothing has changed. As an environmental campaigner, the written word is not my strong point. I apologise for any lack of refinement.
I hope that you like the new booklet format for the newsletter – see Phyllis’s ideas for storage of Journals and, now, newsletters on page 13. The text of the newsletter, without the pictures, is now also available on Simon Coleman’s web site at
Should anyone wish to receive more frequent updates about the Society’s activities via the Internet, send me your email address. We have set up an e-group.
Through popular demand we shall be trialling a new venue and date for the winter meetings that will now take place on the first Saturday of the month at 2pm at the Coate Museum (second Saturday if it coincides with a bank holiday.). This will allow members from further afield to participate and make better use of the Museum where we can also provide refreshments. The Museum will be open from 1pm on these days.
Finally, I should like to thank the many members of the Society for their kind welcome and support. There are too many to mention by name.
Jean Saunders


A Society Slide Show. Speaker: Ray Morse. 5 December 2005.

Ray Morse showed a selection of slides collected by the Society that included pictures of outings, buildings, monuments, plaques, people and places associated with Jefferies and of special events. He illustrated some of the slides by quoting extracts from Jefferies’ works. We were treated to fine pictures of agricultural workers in their smocks and photos of Jefferies’ favourite flowers and blossoms. Pictures recounting Society outings and events along with photos of Society members brought the most oohs! and aahs!
It was an evening of nostalgia but tinged with sadness at the loss of well-loved Society members and buildings and of the views that no longer exist.

Members’ Evening Jointly with The Friends of Alfred Williams. 2 March 2006.

The readers and their choice of text:
Phyllis Treitel paid tribute to the late John Fowles who wrote the introductions to later editions of After London and Round about a Great Estate. She read from the introduction to RGE where Fowles described Jefferies’ two ‘selves’: the good journalist and the secret person. Fowles believed that RGE best illustrated Jefferies’ ability to modulate between the two. We were reminded of the Hilary Luckett remark “God made nothing tidy” to explain why he hated to see trees and shrubs heavily pruned.
Roy Burton read from Villages of the White Horse where Alfred Williams described the journey from Didcot to Swindon with reference to the passing scenery and the history of the area. He then read a Williams’ poem: The Earth Lover. To Richard Jefferies. Essentially the poem describes the fading of beauty and withering in nature with time and of Jefferies himself.
Ray Morse read from ‘Nature Near Brighton’ [The Life of the Fields] in which the power of the soaring hawk and its majestic movements that defy gravity are described.
Jean Saunders read from Amaryllis at the Fair where Amaryllis is asked to read to Grandfather Iden and discovers beautiful pressed flowers and leaves in his book that make her think more kindly of her granddad.
John Price had a theme of ‘discovery’ in the two pieces he read. The first was from Bill Hughes Millstone Grit that describes his journey through the West Riding of Yorkshire and his discovery of Richard Jefferies who he felt closer to than his mother, father and friends. The second was John’s discovery of a letter in an old copy of Dewy Morn on sale in a Charing Cross bookshop. The letter was sent by C J Longman to Jefferies in 1883. Longman expressed disagreement with an article by Jefferies suggesting that landowners should not be allowed to vote on matters that affected their land. Jefferies obviously took on board his editor’s criticism when he wrote about the need for ‘one man one vote’ in ‘After the County Franchise’. The letter is an exciting new find.
Roy Burton rounded off the readings with Williams’ poem To My Mother about the death of a loved one. He continued with the reading from Villages of the White Horse and a description of Jefferies’ gamekeeper where he recounted the old wives’ tale of hedgehogs picking up eggs with their spines.

Charles Sorley (1895-Oct. 1915) Poet and disciple of Jefferies. Speaker: Lady Phyllis Treitel. Research: Stan Hickerton. 3 April 2006.

Phyllis began by explaining that she had not read the recent book on Sorley by Jean Moorcroft Wilson, as her aim was to reveal Sorley's devotion to Jefferies’ essays. This could be discovered from earlier publications, all of which had been tracked down by Stan Hickerton, and made available to her. She began with a short life history: short because Sorley's life was short. Fortunately, he was a poet and a prolific letter writer and so more is known about him than about most young men. He was a great walker and became devoted to the Wiltshire Downs and thus to Jefferies’ essays. Phyllis read several extracts from letters to his parents as evidence of this. Some poems too.

To show that Sorley is not now overlooked (he has one poem in the Oxford Book of English Verse) she read passages from articles by J B Jones, Frances Gay, Mark Baker, and Ken Watts. J B Jones, concerned lest ‘Sorley’s milestone’ and ‘Sorley’s signpost’ get damaged by troops in World War II, had got these items official army protection. He informed Mrs Sorley. Grateful for this service to her son’s memory, Mrs Sorley sent JBJ her son’s copy of The Life of the Fields (sent out to him in the trenches). Where is it? And how fares the signpost?

It transpired, in the discussion, that the copy of LF was in the Society’s own library. This was subsequently tracked down to reveal not only Charles Sorley’s signature on the fly sheet but the dedication from his mother and twin brother, Kenneth, to J B Jones.

The History of the Wilts and Berks Canal in Swindon. Speaker: Janet Flanagan. 8 May 2006.

Janet, an active long-standing member of the local canal trust gave a presentation with slides about the canal, past and present. The canal interested Jefferies along with the life of the canal folk. Some staggering figures were presented regarding the numbers of brickworks that were created along the line of the canal that stretched the clay belt from Semington in Wiltshire to Abingdon, now in Oxfordshire. A larger type of brick was used to avoid tax! Swindon was in the middle of the 52 mile stretch where the HQ was based. An enabling act of Parliament in 1795 led to the start of the building of the canal that reached Swindon in 1804 and Abingdon in 1810. It was mostly used to carry coal and its peak year of use was 1840 when the coming of the railways led to the decline of the canals. A cheer was raised when Coate reservoir was mentioned. The work currently undertaken by the Trust to restore the canal and the repeated setbacks as a result of vandalism made daunting listening. Our efforts to restore the Jefferies Museum pale into insignificance by comparison.

The ‘Stone Readings’ event on 3 May was held as part of the Swindon Literary Festival, now in its thirteenth year. It drew together over 30 people, from all parts of the country and the world, to the Memorial Stone at Burderop Down. There were appropriate readings from Alfred Williams’ and Jefferies’ works whilst a skylark sang in the background. Festival organiser, Matt Holland, suggested that similar events should be held in future years. The following two poems were inspired by the occasion:

earth lovers
by Tony Hillier

thirty folk
rise above the breeze
float indeed on the breeze
the free breeze of free words
Williams’ words
Jefferies’ words
sliding the Barbury slopes
singing around the Stone
the Memorial Stone
the Writers’ Stone

earth lovers
writers now
listening to the festive larks

by Wendy Gilford

Standing on the high downs
The wind behind our backs, growing chill.
The soaring skylark sings a timeless symphony
Sullied by modern machinery's drone.

The faithful few gather on the windswept hill
Around the memorial sarsen stone
To read poetic, prophetic prose
About past lives: keen observations on man's condition.

We look out across the panoramic landscape
Towards Hodson, Coate and Liddington
And wonder, sadly, at the changes
Wrought by the industrial revolution.

Vast prairies of wheat and yellow rape,
Doused with toxic chemicals - no room for wild flowers!
The motorway, cutting through Jefferies' once wild, wooded land
Now obliterating tranquillity - too late to reinstate!

The same lament then as now - too much use of the plough;
No home grown apples - cheaper from the USA.
Jefferies and Williams sent out the message then and still do now
Honour Nature - beware progress and the consequences!


Nearly twenty people gathered on a hot summer day to share the delights of the poetic word. Almost an equal number of members had sent their apologies for absence.
Richard Stewart opened the morning session by reading a poem from his new book about butterflies [see page 22].

The Chairman, John Price, listed Jefferies’ few known poems: ‘To a Fashionable Bonnet’ and ‘The Battle of 1866’ published in his Early Fiction; ‘Grave of the Last Abbot’ published in the Wilts & Glos Herald; ‘Noon-tide in the Meadow’ from Green Ferne Farm; ‘Pictures of April’, ‘My Chaffinch’, ‘Recapitulation’ and ‘Earth Prayer’ from Chronicles of the Hedges and ‘The Mulberry Tree’ from his nature note-books. He then listed people who had written poems about Jefferies that included Charles Sorley, Alfred Williams, Harold Joliffe, George Bell and Bill Keith. Members were then invited to select their own contribution.

Richard Stewart read three short poems by Bill Keith from Worshipper of Earth. These were: ‘Coate Water’, ‘Beechwood Silence’ and ‘Sea Lane – Goring’.

Wendy McLeod Gilford read her own poem inspired by the Stone-gathering event at Burderop in May [see page 9]

Ray Morse read Jefferies’ poem ‘The Mulberry Tree’.

Helen Newman selected an extract of poetic nature prose from Mary Webb’s The Spring of Joy.

John Webb selected two pieces. The first was an extract from Jefferies’ ‘July Grasses’ that had been recently republished in the Swindon Advertiser and describes the activities of the beautiful scarlet ‘July fly’, as Jefferies called it. The second was a reading from Jean Henri Fabre, a French entomologist who wrote about 50 books on insects but who inspired an appreciation for creatures that might otherwise be considered repulsive. John read from Life of the Spider an extract on the life of the scarab or dung-beetle.

Margaret Evans read on behalf of Brian Morris who referred to a biography of Fabre The Poet of Science. Brian was fascinated by writers like Fabre who combined a literary mode of expression with an attempt to convey scientific ideas and included Jefferies, Henry Thoreau, John Burroughs, Ernest Thompson Seton, W H Hudson and John Muir in the list. Brian selected a passage from ‘The Pine Wood’ [The Open Air] where August is buzzing with the sound of insects that, he believed, Fabre would have enjoyed.

Margaret Evans’ own choice was to study the references to Chaucer’s writing in Jefferies’ work. She believed that Jefferies had been influenced by Chaucer’s subject matter and technique such as the use of observations of the month’s nature and the listing of species. She referred to Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale to illustrate the point.

Stan Hickerton drew attention to Birds of a Feather and an unpublished letter to W H Hudson from Harding who wondered “to whom the vale at Long Ditton was sacred” as related by poet and playwright John Davidson [(1857-1909) in the lines: Once in June, Upstream I went to hear summertime, The birds sing at Long Ditton on a vale, Sacred to him who wrote his own heart’s tale [St Swithin’s Day, published in Fleet Street Ecologies, 1896] Hudson was unable to cast any light on the query but expressed regret at Davidson’s fate [he committed suicide] and that his writing never reached the acclaim it deserved. Stan then chose an extract from the first draft of The Story of my Heart [Constable edition page 144] where Jefferies quotes from a sonnet by Leigh Hunt on the Nile and thought of the sun that centuries ago, had seen Sesostris. The notes refer to the fact that Jefferies rarely quoted, that the quote was dropped from the final version of the book but showed how widely read Jefferies was.

Phyllis Treitel selected some Jefferies poetry that had been included in Looker’s Richard Jefferies: Man of the Fields [Ch. 4] that demonstrated Jefferies’ Whitman-style writing. Phyllis had examined the original Jefferies’ manuscript and had succeeded in deciphering some of the missing words that Looker had found difficult to read. She challenged others to try to decipher more. The extract related to Jefferies regret that he had not taken advantage of opportunities in the past; he hadn’t considered offers good enough and that now he had nothing. Jefferies referred to “the woman of the earth” who said “come with me”. Who was she?

Brenda Taylor read a poem from Bill Keith’s Worshipper of Earth entitled ‘For Company’.

Rip Buckley read out his own poem dedicated to Jefferies that expressed his love of walking in all weathers on the Downs. Entitled ‘By Jefferies Clump’, the poem was published in the Society’s newsletter [Autumn 1999, page 19].

Norma Goodwin chose a piece of prose from Hampshire Days by W H Hudson that was similar to Jefferies’ writing. It described ancestral barrows, sunshine, wind and the stars.

Eric Jones selected an extract from Hodge and his Masters where Hodge ends his final days in the work-house and bemoans the fact that whilst he is housed, fed and bedded, it is not his cottage, his food or his bed.

Jean Saunders found a quote from Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas that opened ‘The Study of Stock’ [Chronicles of the Hedges] where Jefferies compares the difficulties of becoming a farmer with the knowledge required to become a poet and wonders why anyone chooses to become either. Jean also selected a poem from Mary Webb [‘To the World’] that describes Mary’s emotion and despair at the loss of beloved countryside and nature that others could not recognise to be of any value and sought to destroy [cp Jefferies’ ‘My Old Village’ – Field and Hedgerow].

John Price read two tribute poems to Jefferies. The first by Alfred Williams: ‘The Earth Lover’ , the second by Charles Sorley, who was only about 17 years of age at the time, entitled simply ‘Richard Jefferies’.

Andrew Rossabi reflected on Edward Thomas’s thoughts on Jefferies in his life and works biography. Thomas does not rate Jefferies as a poet but refers to him constantly as such. Andrew read out seven extracts from Thomas’s book to illustrate the poetry that included a description of the state of the canal where moorhens were able to walk across the polluted water, the lack of noise at Draycot Foliat and thoughts of the sea on the Marlborough Downs.

Regrettably the morning session over-ran with no time left to discuss the interesting and varied contributions from the floor. The afternoon session was dedicated to two speakers and general discussion.
Richard Stewart spoke about Edward Thomas [1878-1917] and his prose into poetry. He introduced the writer who described himself as a ‘hack’ until he found poetry. At his morose, depressed and suicidal periods, Thomas believed that ‘nothing was worthwhile’. Despite a short life he wrote about 40 books – at one stage he had 6 on the go at once. He married Helen, because she was pregnant, and managed to support a family and servant on an income from writing that included many reviews of poems. It was his poet friend, Robert Frost, that persuaded Thomas that he could write poetry. Unlike Jefferies, Thomas moved in a large literary circle that included Hillaire Belloc, Ezra Pound, Walter de la Mare, Arthur Ransome, Joseph Conrad and W H Hudson. Richard read out many extracts from Thomas’s Collected Poems, to illustrate specific points about Thomas’s writing that included his observations on nature, people and places. Richard wondered what would have happened to Thomas had he survived the war. He was an efficient soldier and continued to write some of his best work for pleasure. Would he have emigrated to America and joined Frost? Would he have explored mysticism to a greater degree? How many writers, like Thomas, were equally recognised as good poets and prose writers? Why wasn’t Jefferies a good poet? Richard suggests that Jefferies didn’t need to be - his prose was so good. Finally Richard compared how Jefferies and Thomas treated a similar subject matter to illustrate how both could use brevity to capture the essence of nature in a few lines. [A full transcript of the talk and poems selected can be obtained from the Hon Sec].

Rip Bulkeley spoke on the subject of “Nature poetry before and after Jefferies”. Rip described himself as a working poet with a deep admiration for Jefferies who conveyed a great joy in his writing. Rip compared art with the written word where the reader has to do much of the work. He used the mulberry tree to illustrate the great number of words a writer would need to use to convey a picture of the tree. Yet Jefferies always found the right words to do this successfully with relative brevity. Rip looked at the techniques used by Jefferies: his use of ‘self’ describing what he saw, his use of repetition and “lists” as did Chaucer. Jefferies combined realism with scepticism looking constantly for the meaning of life as have others since. Rip said that Jefferies was not a super-hero but was part of a large cultural shift where adult literacy was improving. He saw increasing urbanisation as an incentive for people to read about country life whilst photography added value. Rip then focussed on how different poets had treated a similar subject – the thrush or common birds. This included Wordsworth’s 1838 sonnet “Hark the thrush…”, John Clare’s ‘The Thrushes’ Nest’, Robert Browning’s ‘Home thoughts from abroad’, Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Darkling Thrush’, Gerard Manley Hopkins ‘Spring’, Philip Larkin’s ‘Pigeons’, Ted Hughes’ ‘Thrushes’ and Basil Bunting who wrote more from the thrushes’ perspective: hunger, struggle for survival, predators, fear, lust…. Owen, in his poem, tells the thrush to shut up! Earl Sollenberg, a deaf poet, wrote ‘Birds will sing’. Even this year Eamon Gremon had a poem published on the thrush.

In true “Blue Peter” style, Phyllis Treitel suggests ways in which cereal boxes can be re-used to make box files for your precious Journals. She writes:
There are now 15 issues of the Society’s Journal, and some members may be wondering how to store them. Here are a few ideas:
1. An old chocolate box of the right size (220mm x 150 mm)
2. A small breakfast-cereal box, with part of the side cut back to reveal the contents that can sit on a bookshelf
3. A custom-made Solander box [a slip-case]. Ask a friend who goes to book-binding classes to make you one or two.
4. A commercially made pamphlet holder that secures about 12 Journals on a spring-loaded cord although it is a fight to get them in and out [e.g. Modern Bookbinders Ltd, Pringle Street, Blackburn BB1 1SA. Tel: 01254 59371]. These are only available in bulk and cost about £4 each. If enough members are interested the Hon. Sec. could make a bulk order.

There have been endless rounds of meetings with Swindon Borough Council and very little progress made. Somewhat frustrated by the lack of action and the neglected look of the Coate farm grounds, volunteers from the Society, the Jefferies Land Conservation Trust [see page 15] and others have given up their time to tackle the brambles, nettles and overgrowth choking the trees, grounds and buildings. Plans to restore the orchard with old English varieties of fruit trees are underway whilst the famous espalier pear has been replaced. Royal Mail awarded the Trust a grant of £500 to buy plants, herbs, trees and shrubs for the gardens that have helped to beautify the grounds. The Trust submitted an application for funding to the Lottery Heritage Fund and Biffawaste in order to restore the out-buildings and the grounds and to take on an education officer for ten hours a week based in the Museum. Whilst the funding bodies liked the project, they were concerned that Swindon Borough Council had failed to demonstrate any support for the project or commitment to maintain the buildings once the project is completed. As such, funding will not be forthcoming until more guarantees are in place.
The Society has written to English Heritage requesting that all the buildings and man-made structures related to the farm are covered by the Grade II protection. The current description attached to the listing only describes features in the main farmhouse. English Heritage has inspected Coate Farm and agrees that more information should be provided. The Society has also applied for protection of trees of literary and environmental importance at the Museum.
On a more sour note, vandals smashed the roofs restored as a result of the Betjeman appeal thirty years ago. Tiles and slates were broken on the roof of the old pig-sty and slated barn that had been so carefully sourced for the restoration work in the 1970s. Three windows were broken in the old cottage whilst the Museum sign was ripped off the main wall. The police sent a crime scene officer to investigate, took DNA samples and appealed for witnesses to come forward through the local media. This incident was followed only days later with another call to the police. Vandals had kicked in the gothic-shaped door through the Museum wall. Broken windows are a common occurrence made worse by the fact that the old thatched cottage has been empty for over ten years. Promises made by Swindon Borough Council to install a suitable care-taker/tenant are now taken with a pinch of salt.
It has been a frantic year at the Museum with record numbers of visitors. There is now much more to see. Items include the Jefferies’ christening cloak [see next article], additional family memorabilia donated by Hugoe Matthews purchased from Nancie Cator and a splendid farmer’s smock and lady’s sun-bonnet made and donated by Sheila Povey. Whilst we have recovered the beautiful silk dress that belonged to Richard’s cousin, Lizzie Cox, light exposure has badly damaged the fabric. The gardens are taking shape and the grounds are now an inviting place to linger and capture the essence of Jefferies. A new damask rose was planted to thank Sheila and John Povey for their valuable contribution to the Museum, after John underwent major surgery in May. We all wish him well and look forward to seeing him back at the Museum. John Webb has produced three more panels of colour photographs with appropriate ‘nature’ quotes that brighten up the room. The education room now contains information and photographs of people and places associated with Jefferies. Sheila Povey has produced extensive historic documentation to browse and some of the Society’s photograph collection are now on permanent view.
The Museum has been opened for the usual Sunday arrangements and Heritage Day but it is now also open every second Wednesday of the month from 10am to 4pm throughout the year. On these same Wednesdays, a writing workshop ‘Footsteps’ is being run by Tony Hillier – a new and welcome Society member. The second meeting in August inspired poems about Jefferies’ mulberry tree that was rich with delicious fruit at the time. Wendy Gilford has donated her collection of Jefferies’ books to the Museum where Members can borrow books from the new library. The main Society library is still kept at John Webb’s house [see page 35 for details]. Wendy, John and Jean have also donated pieces of furniture and other items that improve the building.
Many of the fruit trees planted in the orchard have been paid for by individual Society members. More trees have been ordered for planting next spring paid for out of Mark Daniel’s museum fund. If you would like to make a donation for a tree, shrub, bulb or flower, please send a cheque to the ‘Richard Jefferies Society’ to the Hon. Sec. If you have a particular favourite Jefferies plant, please specify.

According to Henry Williamson, Richard Jefferies’ mother gave a christening robe to a Mrs Bathe, presumably after her own children had been christened in it. Evidently, Williamson visited Coate in 1925 and 1937 and described Mrs Bathe as a ‘straight seeing’ little woman who lived in a ‘tarred cot’ opposite Coate Farm. Mrs Bathe lived to 93 years of age and died in 1948. She had 16 children all of whom were christened wearing the Jefferies’ cloak. It was passed to Mrs Bathe's daughter (Mrs Whitbread of Newport Street) who was the youngest child. Mrs Whitbread’s two children (Arthur and Norman) were also christened in it. The robe was then gifted to the Society in the 1950s. It was shown at a Society meeting and then disappeared for fifty years. It was discovered in May 2006 that the robe had been stored at Swindon’s Bath Road Museum and wrongly attributed to Alfred Williams. The cloak was returned to the Jefferies’ Museum on 4 May. The cloak is a vibrant scarlet colour and in good condition. On learning about the robe featured in the Swindon Advertiser, Norman Whitbread’s son, Ian, visited the Museum on 7 May. Fascinated by the story he questioned the name ‘Bathe’ as his grandmother’s name was Goddard [not related to the land-owners]. So, did Williamson get the name wrong or did Mrs Bathe marry again? And, did the colour of the cloak inspire The Scarlet Shawl?

The Save Coate petition continues to attract names with nearly 30,000 people objecting to the proposals for development at Coate. Policies in the new Swindon Local Plan and the Wiltshire Structure Plan now earmark land for 1800 houses, offices and a university campus along with a small extension for the new hospital. The development area is now referred to as “Commonhead” rather than “Coate” despite the fact that the former is a road-junction and some distance away from the proposed university that mainly hugs Coate Water nature reserve. It is still anticipated that the planning application, lodged by developers in April 2005, will be amended in an attempt to diffuse the situation and make the proposal more acceptable to the public. However Swindonians have suffered broken promises about protecting land at Coate far too often and are becoming more cynical about any new proposal that might come forward with promises to protect any “buffer” land from development. The Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West still views Swindon as a key growth area for the Region proposing that 1,750 new houses should be built each year until 2026. However reference to a university in the document is merely an ‘aspiration’ whilst no mention is made of a potential location for the building. As the University of Bath has no funding approved to build a campus and councillors have said “no university, no houses”, then there is still hope that we might win the fight. Efforts to highlight the literary importance of the area under threat have fallen on deaf ears. Swindon Borough Council has asked their landscape team to investigate this. As no experts on Richard Jefferies have been approached for a view, it is unlikely that any report produced will be based on any substance.

The Trust evolved from the Save Coate! coalition and achieved full charity status in January 2006. It’s objectives allow the organisation to undertake conservation work. Whilst the emphasis is on protecting the land immediately under threat from development at Coate, the Trust aims to highlight and promote the literary and environmental qualities of the area that includes Jefferies’ old house at Coate. Its first task was to ensure that the Grade II listing of Jefferies’ milestone [‘Meadow Thoughts’] described the literary merits of the “building” that went unrecognised in the English Heritage notification. As a result of the Trust’s efforts, the records have been amended.
The focus is now on a major restoration plan for the out-buildings and grounds of Jefferies’ Museum [see page 13] in consultation with and the approval of the Society. Whilst everyone is bitterly disappointed that the bid for nearly £100,000 was blocked through lack of interest by Swindon Borough Council, the Trust will achieve their goals somehow! The efforts of volunteers from the Trust and the Society as well as from TWIGS, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and Nationwide, have transformed the place whilst the grant of £500 from Royal Mail has been well spent. Items purchased include two wooden benches that are placed near the mulberry tree when the Museum is open. Threats of more vandalism make it difficult to restore some areas. We are also finding out where the slugs like to chomp their way through plantings, at great cost to some of the flower beds!

For more information about the Save Coate campaign or Jefferies Land Conservation Trust, contact Jean Saunders [see page 2] or look at these web sites: and

Michael Taylor, Society member in Auckland, New Zealand, writes:

There is an early link between Richard Jefferies and New Zealand because one of Jefferies's boyhood friends (or was it his younger brother Harry, the model for Mark the bosom friend of Bevis?) had emigrated to the distant colony.
Today New Zealand has attained a population of four million and tourism bids to eclipse the pioneering industries of sheep and dairy farming in the country's economic equation. However isolation remains a big factor in the professional life of its citizens. This thread runs through the distinguished career in geology, palaeontology and zoology of Sir Charles Fleming (1916-1987) whose knighthood was gained for services to science and conservation - a rare achievement in 1977. Keen especially on birds, he was a founder of the Ornithological Society of New Zealand, the organisation through which I met him. Among the roots of Charles Fleming's life-long enthusiasm for nature was his introduction to the works of Richard Jefferies, together with those of W H Hudson, during his schooldays in Auckland.
This information is revealed in the biography Charles Fleming -Environmental Patriot recently published by his daughter, Mary McEwen, which is a fascinating account. My own love of nature which dates from schooldays in Yorkshire can be traced to books; the Romany and Nomad series but especially Bevis, along with Tarka the Otter, and Salar the Salmon, by Henry Williamson (a great admirer of Jefferies). Hence I was particularly pleased to come across the following passages in the story of so eminent a fellow scientist as Sir Charles Fleming.
The war years had prevented travel but we read:-
‘In August 1948 Charles joined an excursion, based in Oxford, which was organised to precede the 18th International Geological Congress. The leader of the excursion was palaeontologist Dr W J Arkell, a specialist in ammonites. He was pleased to discover that Dr Arkell liked the work of Richard Jefferies, whose book Bevis had inspired Charles when he was growing up. More than that, Arkell took the group to Bevis's home territory - Coate Water and Coate Farm.’
Of his home life, Mary McEwen relates that her father’s regular hours at the New Zealand Geological Survey along with a complete immersion in his studies limited his role as a parent. She notes: ‘he worked on ornithology at the dining table until bedtime’. However she adds: ‘inspired by Arthur Ransome’s Pigeon Post, we kept homing pigeons, and once or twice Charles helped us to take the birds some distance away, where we attached messages to their legs before releasing them to fly home’— and he ‘took us fishing from a jetty in Wellington Harbour, but such events were rare.’ ‘More frequent were the bedtime stories he read to us. He chose books he had owned and loved when he was a child: Bevis and Wood Magic by Richard Jefferies for Robin [the older sister] and Little Lord Fauntleroy by Francis Hodgson Burnett for me.’


In response to the query regarding the whereabouts of the stone [RJS Newsletter, Spring 2006, page 9] bearing the inscription that declares ‘Here ends Coate Road’, Hugoe Matthews reminded us of the quote from ‘Chapters on Churches’ [RJS Journal No 6, 1997 page 3]. The article penned by Jefferies for the North Wiltshire Herald, and published on 5 January 1867 deals with Jefferies’ visit to Chiseldon. He writes:

On entering the village of Coate, I once again passed over the bridge which spans a stream known as Coate water, and here observed inserted on the left-hand parapet, on the side furthest from Swindon, a stone with this mysterious inscription:

Here ends Coate Road.

Jefferies goes on to describe the location of the stone as “forty paces further” from the Sun Inn but asks “Where ends Coate Road” as those living in the hamlet had different ideas.

Sheila Povey sent in an old postcard that reads: “End of Coate Road”, pictured below. Sheila suggests that the stone might have been by the now demolished house that would have been opposite the Sun Inn.


Blue plaque. The Society has written to English Heritage with a view to obtaining a Blue Plaque for the Jefferies Museum. Unfortunately, however, the scheme that started in London has not yet extended to the South-West region. The situation is under review. The English Heritage officer dealing with the scheme commented, after seeing a photo of the house, that a Blue Plaque would complement the blue door of the Museum. She urged us to re-apply once the scheme reaches the area.

Cirencester plaque. Did you know that there is a plaque on the wall of the offices of the Wiltshire & Gloucestershire Standard based in Cirencester? Prof. Eric Jones sent in these pictures.

The Society has written twice to the editor of the paper requesting that they might like to publish an article about Jefferies and his house at Coate or some extracts from his works. There has been no response. A reporter, when asked, could not see the relevance of an article to their local paper!

Liddington Viewing Table. On June 24th around 50 people gathered on Liddington Hill when a memorial plaque and direction marker was unveiled by Lord Joffe. The weather was perfect, the views superb and a skylark sang overhead to add to the atmosphere of the occasion. Lady Treitel expressed thanks on behalf of the Society and read an appropriate passage from The Story of My Heart. The erection of the viewing table and plaques was a millennium project planned by Liddington Parish Council who also wanted to replace the memorial plaque to Richard Jefferies and Alfred Williams that had been placed on the Ordnance Survey triangulation point pillar by J B Jones [Swindon schoolmaster and scholar] on 18 November 1938. This plaque was replaced in 1940 - the original had been damaged as a result of using it for artillery practice during the war. The original plaque is kept at the Bath Road museum. The second plaque disappeared around 2001 - it was assumed that vandals had pulled it down. It is rumoured that this plaque has been found. If we can trace it, the plaque will be restored to its rightful place to honour J B Jones who went to such great trouble to get the plaque erected originally and the efforts of Society member Mark Daniel and Gordon Wilson of Liddington Parish Council who saved the plinth that was in danger of falling down. The inscription on the latest plaque reads:

LIDDINGTON HILL BELOVED BY RICHARD JEFFERIES AND ALFRED WILLIAMS. Haste not, be at rest. This now is eternity. I felt immortality as I felt the beauty of the summer morning.
Richard Jefferies.

The Council Oak plaque. According to the Coate Water Rangers, the Council Oak plaque made by Cyril Wright had fallen apart and was thrown away. Thanks to the efforts of Ray Morse, teachers and pupils at Dorcan Technical College a new sign for the tree was completed in August. There will be a small dedication ceremony to reinstate the plaque that will be held on Heritage Day – 10th September at noon.


Interest in farmer Iden’s favourite potato has grown [see Spring 2006 newsletter page 1] with enquiries as to where the potato might be purchased. The supermarket referred to by John Price is Waitrose. Perhaps, this winter, there will be new stocks on the shelves. If not, why not ask? Small potatoes can be planted around February as “seed”.


The following entry appeared in the newsletter of the Wiltshire Records Office [WRO]: “A series of 39 letters and postcards from the writer Henry Williamson, to Mrs Frances Gay, secretary of the Richard Jefferies Society, have been deposited by her daughter. Williamson was an admirer of Jefferies and the letters, written between 1958 and 1971, reflect this, together with his less favourable opinion of W H Hudson, author of A Shepherd’s Life. He also describes his current literary and broadcasting work. The letters are also revealing about his life and family. He became President of the Society in 1971. (WSRO 3512/1). Contributors: Claire Skinner, John d’Arcy and Steve Hobbs, editor.” The WRO in Trowbridge is closing next summer and opening in Chippenham in October 2007.


The Society has published a new leaflet to advertise the Museum whilst a guide has been produced for Museum visitors. Other leaflets have been updated; for example the walks around Coate Water [awaiting print in full colour] and the tour that explores more of Jefferies Land. New pamphlets have been added related to the Frances Gay Memorial and direction marker at Coate Water and ‘Bevis Country’. The leaflets are based on the articles that appeared in the 1987 Jefferies’ guidebook. John Chandler has been commissioned to write a new guidebook for the Society that will be geared towards reaching the general public who may not be aware of Jefferies or his works. The text of many Jefferies’ works is now available in WORD on a CD Rom – new titles are being added constantly. Stan Hickerton has produced a stunning new colour poster to advertise Museum open days [see front cover] that has been circulated widely around Swindon. The nearest local library at Liden hosted a display about Jefferies from May to September. We are most grateful to the Swindon Advertiser; they have given the Society, Jefferies and the Museum much publicity throughout the year. More about this under “Citings”.


Those of you with access to the Internet can now keep up to date with news and events about the Society. A news blog has been set up at
This complements Simon Coleman’s web site at that focuses on the Life and Works of Richard Jefferies.
If you would like to receive the occasional e-mail with news or you have information to impart to others send your e-mail address to The Society has set up a free electronic mailing group to facilitate this.


Thanks to Richard Wright in Australia, the following links will take you to the text of Jefferies' early novels on the Internet:
The Scarlet Shawl
Restless Human Hearts
Jefferies' Land [text only ]
with illustrations:
Greene Ferne Farm

The Independent on Sunday had a flurry of activity earlier in the year. On Building a Library by Jem Poster [19th February], he recommended The Story of my Heart. On 12th March, Walden Books published their top ten “hot list” of sales over the week . Perennial Philosophy by Aldous Huxley came in at number one; to be followed by Hodge and His Masters.
In reviewing a book for the Guardian [25 March], Daniel Butler describes Running for the Hills by Horatio Clare as "beautifully written, particularly in its detailed observations of the natural world. The description of swirling choughs along the Pembroke coast is reminiscent of Richard Jefferies".
Suzanne Kelsey wrote a superb piece about Jefferies in Out and About in Berkshire & Neighbouring Counties, May edition, which should have encouraged more visitors to the Museum.
The Shooting Times (25th May) contained a column by John Humphreys called 'An amateur poacher' which starts ‘The Amateur Poacher, by Richard Jefferies, is a dangerous book to pick up: open it and you can’t put it down.’ Humphreys writes that his father gave him Poacher and also Gamekeeper and ‘they changed my life.’ The ST is offering Poacher for £18.95 post free, Excellent Press edition. The Pocket Book of Shooting Facts (given away with this ST issue) lists Gamekeeper at Home in its list of ten classic books on shooting.
The May edition of Countryman publicised the latest edition of The Open Air.
The Society has teamed up with the Swindon Advertiser in order to provide suitable monthly nature notes that have been beautifully illustrated with appropriate wild-life photos. We launched with a piece from ‘April Gossip’ and have years of quotes to keep them going!
Margaret Bathe spotted an article in the Daily Telegraph [13th June] publicising The Dangerous Book for Boys. The editorial comment noted: ‘Can children of the PlayStation3 era still breathe the air of the Richard Jefferies classic Bevis, The Story of a Boy'? The "test drive" on today's News Features pages suggests they can. More power to their catapults.'
Will Self claimed in The Week that After London was one of the six books that most influenced the writing of his latest novel: The Book of Dave.
Eric Jones came across this: Brian Tippett, W H Hudson in Hampshire (Winchester: Hampshire County Council, Hampshire Papers #27, 2004), discusses Hudson as 'the immediate successor to Richard Jefferies'. Tippett goes out of his way to pair Hudson and Jefferies and refers to RJ as 'Hudson's immediate literary predecessor in bringing Nature to the increasingly urbanised Victorian reading public' and even carries a photograph of Jefferies.
Geoff Hirst came across this in the London Review of Books (3rd August). The review is by E.S.Turner (posthumously published as he died in his nineties early in July) and the book is Rural Reflections: A brief History of Traps, Trapmakers and Gamekeeping in Britain. (It is 416 pages long so must be the last word, rather than "brief"). The direct quotation of Turner reads: The victims of the "iron wolf", as Richard Jeffries (sic) called it, included not only poachers but maidservants, clergymen, courting couples, botanisers and bird-nesting boys as well as members of the (trap) owners family and his absent minded gamekeepers.
BBC TV in their programme Points West featured Jefferies and the Coate Water walk along with other writers in the south-west region who were inspired by landscape. Other writers included Coleridge, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy and Laurie Lee. The Jefferies’ feature was broadcast on August 15th. John Price was interviewed by TV presenter Amanda Parr. The walk is up on the BBC web-site at

Some splendid new books are available written by Society members.

The Cut of the Light: Poems 1965-2005
Professor Jeremy Hooker [President of the Society from 1999-2004] has produced a collection of his poems written between 1965 to 2005. The book is published by Enitharmon Press (Distributed in the USA and Canada by Dufour Editions Inc.), pp. 373, hardback, £25. ISBN 1-904634-27-3.
Drawing extensively on poetry written over forty years, the book contains early, previously unpublished poems and some new versions of later work.

Brother What Strange Place is This?
A collection of short stories by Tom Saunders has been published by UKA Press, ISBN: 1-904781-14-4 UK £9.99. The title story, 'Brother…', describes the slow death of a composer, Griffin Curzon, who in 1913 attempts a suicide, survives, and is interned in a sanatorium. We bear witness to Griffin's physical and metaphorical descent through the eyes of his brother, an inventor called Alaric. Alaric receives the occasional letter from Griffin, one of which reads:
Brother, What strange place is this? My keepers carried me here like a Samson in chains. A great man graced my room today and peered hard into my face as if he aspired to read in it some prophecy.
The book can be purchased and customer reviews and an appreciation can be read at:

The Poetry of Swindon – one man’s journey 2000-2006
Tony Hillier paints pictures, through his poetry, of the many community, educational and cultural events and issues that have grabbed his attention in this millennium. This includes a poem about plans to concrete over Coate. The A5 pamphlet, pp. 50, is available from Tony for £3 from 48 South View Avenue, Swindon SN3 1DZ.`

New Butterfly Book
As a follow-up to his Millennium Atlas of Suffolk Butterflies Richard Stewart has now written a more informal book based on his diaries from 1994 to the start of 2000, with a final updated section.
The main thrust of the book is the butterfly recording in Suffolk during the highly successful national Millennium Survey and this includes accounts of rare butterflies like Large Tortoiseshell, Queen of Spain Fritillary and Camberwell Beauty. Richard also describes many trips outside Suffolk , to see Swallowtails in Norfolk, Chequered Skippers in the Scottish Highlands, Mountain Ringlets in the Lake District and Large Blues at a secret site in Devon . Other trips described include the Isle of Wight , Dorset , Hampshire , Kent and Surrey which have species no longer recorded in Suffolk. Richard has included several photos and published poems and he covers other wildlife during his travels. There is also a detailed account of seeing the overwintering Monarchs in Mexico. Other adventures include a nudist colony, forcibly evicted villagers, threatened allotments, suspicious villagers, late night football supporters, a computerised robot and a woman who actually dislikes butterflies.
The book would make an ideal present for anyone interested in wildlife and is available for £6-50, including postage, from Richard at: 'Valezina', 112, Westerfield Road, Ipswich, Suffolk. IP4 2XVJ . Please make cheques out to 'Richard Stewart’.

Richard Jefferies and the Ecological Vision by Brian Morris. This book should be available in the New Year. Details in the next newsletter.

Professor Roger Ebbatson is giving two Jefferies related lectures this autumn. The first: 'Richard Jefferies and Transcendentalism', takes place at the Leiden University October Conference, Holland, 25 October. The second is a day conference [10am-4pm] organised by the Christian Literary Studies Group. “PROPHETIC VOICES” takes place on Saturday, 11 November at Corpus Christi College [seminar room], Merton Street, Oxford [£15 including lunch]. Prof Ebbatson’s subject will be 'Prophetic Landscapes: Thomas Hardy & Richard Jefferies'. Bookings to CLSG Secretary, 10 Dene Road, Northwood, Middlesex by 6 November.

Mr R Roys of York provided a most eloquent and detailed answer in a six page illustrated letter in response to this question posed to new members. He writes: It was in the early nineteen thirties.. The era of short patched up trousers, cod liver oil at playtime, (bring your own spoon), cigarette cards and grubby knees.. Our class had to move to the next classroom for sums. Here were desks with lids that lifted. Books and personal items were kept in these belonging to the resident class. Here one could lift the lid and explore the contents when teacher’s attention was elsewhere. It was such when completing the assignment of arithmetical problems that one finished one’s task before the end of the lesson. Having time to spare one delved, as one does. A book of some interest was discovered. ‘Wood Magic’. I read and was absorbed, delighted and besotted. Every time we visited this special classroom for sums I hastened through the delegated task and read, and read until I finished the book of wonderment. From that time on, until we went to a secondary school, at the age of eleven, ‘Wood Magic’ and its companion ‘Bevis’ occupied my reading and supplied the gist of my day dreams. Oh! Happy Days!

Mr J Roberts of Wakefield became acquainted with the works of Jefferies after hearing programmes about him on Radio 3 and 4 in the early 1980s. As a lover of the English countryside, Jefferies’ words “touched a chord” and along with an interest in mysticism, this seemed the perfect combination. At the same time, music by Frank Bridge, Edmund Rubra and Vaughan Williams ploughed a similar furrow. By chance, Mr Roberts bought books by Jefferies that he still owns today.

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. A novel event being planned for the Sunday will include a literary treasure hunt based on Jefferies' favourite local haunts.
Margaret Evans and Stan Hickerton attended this years AGM held in Bath in May. See Margaret’s report below. The Richard Jefferies Society has asked the ALS if a future AGM might consider the lack of government planning policy to protect literary landscapes and what the ALS might do about this to effect change. It was reported in the ALS newsletter, Summer 2006, that this has been of great concern to the Society with regard to the Save Coate campaign and the impact of the proposed development on Jefferies Land.
The Tolkien Society will host the 2007 AGM on May 19-20th.


Patrick Stokes, Chairman of the Jane Austen Society of the United Kingdom, welcomed attendees on behalf of the Jane Austen and The Burney Societies.
In the absence of Nicholas Reid, Kenn Oultram acted as Chairman. He reported that 27 Societies were represented at the meeting. There were approximately 110 member societies. 6 new societies have joined during the last year with more enquiries looming. Members of the committee gave their reports.
The formal business concluded Kenn introduced Maggie Lane and Angela Barlow, who together were to give a very interesting and entertaining presentation entitled She was come to be happy: Jane Austen and Fanny Burney in Bath. Maggie gave a talk interspersed with readings given by Angela. Maggie Lane has written books on Jane Austen and Fanny Burney. Angela Barlow is an actress and writer.
The theme of the talk was the different experiences and responses Jane Austen and Fanny Burney had in, and to, Bath. Both authors were stimulated by Bath in different ways. Although Fanny and Jane are linked in many ways, it is interesting to note that the work of Fanny Burney had an influence on Jane Austen, whereas Jane Austen is more well-known today. In her day however, Fanny Burney was more well-known than Jane Austen. Fanny Burney’s works were in print when Jane Austen was a child, and Jane read these whilst she was growing up. On the other hand, however, although Jane’s books were published during Fanny’s lifetime, Fanny does not appear to have heard of Jane. More is known about Fanny Burney from her diaries which give an insight into her life and life in the times. Whereas Jane Austen had a domestic life, Fanny Burney led a very broad life.
Although Fanny Burney’s novels were well-known in her day she is little read today, her present audience comprising of people who want to know about life in her day. Fanny’s books have titles of girls’ names. The sub-titles Fanny Burney uses demonstrate how Jane Austen was influenced by her. Fanny Burney was the first author to take women as a main character and the first person to write about current life and society.
Fanny Burney was born 23 years before Jane Austen and outlived her by 23 years. She lived from the reign of George II into the early days of Victoria’s reign. She therefore saw more historical change than Jane Austen. However, they both witnessed changes in Bath through the time that they knew it.
Fanny Burney’s first visit to Bath was made in 1767 at the age of 15. She loved it but only made little use of it in her fictional writings. Her second visit comprised a 3-month stay in 1780. In the intervening years Bath had become less fashionable. Even so she was still enthusiastic about the city and the lifestyle. This contrasts with the reaction of Jane Austen who, apart from Lyme Regis, does not enthuse about places. Fanny Burney’s next visit was a 3-week stay in 1791. In the intervening 11 years the city had grown both physically and in the society now there – it was becoming more a place of residents as well as a resort.
The earliest visit to Bath by Jane Austen, is thought to have been in 1797 when she was 22. She revisited in 1799. In between the two visits she had written a draft of a novel, which was to become Northanger Abbey. This was one of two of her novels to feature Bath. (“She was come to be happy in Bath” is a quote from Northanger Abbey.) Jane Austen uses her characters’ reactions to Bath as indicators of their moral worth. Jane had spent her childhood and younger days in the country, which she loved. This contrasted with Bath, which seemed to her a metropolis with more social activities but which she found shallow. In her letters to her sister Cassandra she concentrates on these, rather than visual aspects of the city, and she does not give lengthy descriptions of the city in her novels. This contrasts with Fanny Burney who enthuses about the architecture.
In 1801 the family decide to move to Bath. After her father died, the Austen ladies remained in Bath before moving to Southampton and, finally, in 1809, moved to Chawton, near Alton, in Hampshire.
Returning to Fanny Burney, at the age of 40, she married General D’Arbley, and eventually, in 1815, set up home in Bath, 24 years after her previous visit. They led a pleasant life in Bath for the next 3 years, similar to Jane Austen’s characters in Persuasion. She lived in Bath until 1818. It is during the period 1815 to 1818 that one would have thought she would have read Jane Austen. In 1818, after the death of her husband, she moved with her son to live in London, where she died in 1840. Her body was returned to Bath for burial.
In her conclusion Maggie mentioned that her talk had been based on books she had written about Fanny Burney.
During the afternoon, in order to have manageable groups and to stagger visits to 4 Sydney Place, where the Austen family had lived between 1801 and 1804, a number of walks were organised, one for Fanny Burney and the rest for Jane Austen. These visited places relevant to the two authors when they stayed there, and those mentioned in their fictional work.
After dinner Angela Barlow gave a vivacious presentation entitled Character in Jane Austen – An Actor’s View. Character was a huge subject so only a few aspects were touched on. To gain a thorough insight into a character, an actor must ask themselves many questions in order to faithfully portray a role. Jane Austen manages to convey answers to these questions raised with great skill. She attended the theatre and was brought up in a literary family. Even though her characters are actable it took a long time for her novels to be dramatised. In adaptations a performer also has to have a concept of how to act the part between the lines of dialogue.

Angela rounded off her talk with amusing quotes to illustrate the differing predispositions of male and female characters in Pride and Prejudice. The audience reacted enthusiastically, not only to this, but to the whole of the most lively, entertaining and informative presentation.
During the morning session of the AGM sheets for a self-guided walk were issued to those who were interested in following it on the Sunday, when one could also visit the Jane Austen Centre.
A striking comparison between Jane Austen and Richard Jefferies was their shared love of, and solace found in, nature. It was also interesting to recollect that Jefferies’ father had moved to Bath to work as a gardener after selling Coate Farm. Margaret Evans


Wilts 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.

Friends of Alfred Williams
The May 2006 newsletter contains an extract from the unpublished journal of Kate Tryon, an American devotee of Jefferies who painted Jefferies’ landscapes that hang on the walls of the Jefferies Museum. She met Alfred Williams in 1911 whilst lodging at the keeper’s cottage at Coate Water. ‘The Friends’ summer outing this year visited Cogges Manor Farm Museum in Witney that is steeped in agricultural history and where you could watch the Victorian maids cooking and talking about their daily chores whilst farm-hands demonstrated the use of traditional rural implements.

The Edward Thomas Fellowship.
The Edward Thomas Fellowship held a Study Day in Cheltenham on June 10th 2006, attended by Walter de la Mare’s grandson, Giles, to consider the relationship between Edward Thomas and de la Mare. The autumn walk will be held on September 24th around Bearsted in Kent, where the Thomases lived in the early days of their marriage. The Birthday Walk and ninetieth anniversary of Edward Thomas’s death will be celebrated at Steep over the weekend of 14th/15th April 2007, and there are plans to visit Agny and other places on the Western Front from 31st October – 3rd. November next year. Finally, there is an interesting article in the newsletter on “Hardy and Edward Thomas, Poet”, by Professor R. George Thomas; based on a lecture given to the Thomas Hardy Society in July 1988, which refers to a passage in Edward Thomas’s “Richard Jefferies”.


ALAN VOCE. Alan was the son of Samuel Voce and Ethel May Jefferies who always insisted that “We’re related to Richard Jefferies the author”. When he was a teenager he saw a book by Richard Jefferies in a second hand book store and bought it. It was the first of many. When he retired, he became interested in family History, and very soon discovered his grandfather’s Wiltshire roots, and many other relatives of the wide-ranging Jefferies family, most of whom he met. He always enjoyed meeting the like-minded people at the Society’s AGMs and visiting once more the Wiltshire countryside. He died May 9th aged 77.
Eileen Voce

Alan was kind enough to bequeath his collection of Jefferies’ books to the Society. They will be made available to members. There will be more information in the Spring 2007 newsletter.

John Jefferys and Michael Burrows have also bequeathed their Jefferies’ books to the Society this year. We are most grateful but wish them good health and a long life.




2.30 The Birthday Lecture (visitors welcome)
Speaker: Martin Haggerty
Subject: ‘William Morris and the English Countryside’.
4.00 Tea
4.30 Depart

Martin Haggerty is an independent researcher and writer, specialising in aspects of English cultural history. As such, he has published work on a wide range of themes, from landscape to philosophy and from architecture to music, but most typically on literary topics. He holds Master's degrees in both English and Theology and a postgraduate diploma in Heritage Interpretation.
Martin served on the committee of the William Morris Society from 1997 to 2004 and was the editor of their Newsletter for most of that time. Also since 1997, but continuing, he has been a committee member for the Edward Thomas Fellowship, whose website he manages. His earlier voluntary positions include serving as Open Spaces and Footpaths Secretary for the Ramblers' Association, Inner London Area, from 1995 to '98.
An environmentalist since childhood, Martin has in recent years become prominent as a campaigner against GM food and farming. Consequently, since 2004, he has been a co-ordinator in the Genetic Engineering Network (GEN), working as an intermediary between NGOs, local groups, farmers, scientists and activists involved in the anti-GM campaign across Britain.
Martin has been a member of the Richard Jefferies Society for many years. His other membership includes Friends of the Earth, the Soil Association, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (founded by William Morris), the British Agricultural History Society, Christian Ecology Link and the Rural Theology Association.
After 15 years living in London, Martin moved to Scarborough, North Yorkshire, in 1998. His main recreations are walking in the countryside and growing food on two large organic-permaculture allotments.


If you would like any of the following, please write to Mrs. Norma Goodwin, Wildings, 3a Momford Road, Oliver’s Battery, Winchester SO22 4LE. E-mail Cheques should be made payable to the ‘Richard Jefferies Society’ although small orders can be paid for by postage stamps.

Postcards: 25p each or any 3 for 65p
Watercolour of Liddington Hill & quotation
Wild flowers & quotation
Portrait of Richard Jefferies
Set of 5 cards Jefferies’ birthplace circa 1910 £1
Richard Jefferies Farmhouse and Museum free
Richard Jefferies in Eltham 25p
Richard Jefferies in Surbiton 25p
Richard Jefferies in Sussex 25p
Coate Farm and ‘Bevis Country’ 50p
Richard Jefferies & Coate Water (guided walk) 50p
Richard Jefferies & Old Town (guided walk) 25p
A Jefferies Land itinerary (guided tour) 25p
Jefferies Land Direction Indicator/Frances Gay Memorial 50p

Back numbers of the Journal (see contents list on page 36) £1.00
The Story of my Heart (paperback) £2.00
Richard Jefferies and Coate by John Chandler £1.00
Published Works of Richard Jefferies (in order) by Hugoe Matthews
A4 size £2.00 A5 size (same text) £1.50

Postage: For the UK add 23p for orders up to £1; add 50p for orders up to £2 : add 75p for orders £2 and over. See separate mailing costs for Journals on page 38.
For Europe add the minimum charge of 95p for 1 booklet (printed matter) . More than 1 booklet add £1.14p.
Outside Europe, please contact Norma to find out postage cost.

Electronic books on CD for sale
The following books have now been scanned and are available for purchase on one CD Rom at a cost of £5 including postage. The books are being added to constantly. Please note, there can be no guarantee of accuracy, given the limitation of scan-to-text hardware. The majority of the files are in WORD format but can be altered on request to pdf files.

After London
The Amateur Poacher
Amaryllis at the Fair
Chronicles of the Hedges
Field and Hedgerow
Greene Ferne Farm
Hodge and his Masters
Jefferies Land
The Life of the Fields
The Open Air
Pageant of Summer
Restless Human Hearts
The Scarlet Shawl
The Story of my Heart
Wildlife in a Southern County
World’s End
… and more!

Also included:

Richard Jefferies and Coate by John Chandler

Scarce Jefferies Works on CD
These may also be obtained on loan from Mrs. Goodwin:
CD-01 The Scarlet Shawl
CD-02 Jefferies Land
CD-03 Greene Ferne Farm
CD-04 Restless Human Hearts
A fee of £1 is charged for the loan of each CD. See page 6 of Spring Newsletter 2004 for details. The CDs will be posted separately in an air bag at a cost of 37p for one and 62p for two. Cheques to the Richard Jefferies Society.

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

Talks and articles library. There is an extensive archive of about 80 talks and articles produced for the Society that can be purchased as photocopies. Some date back to the 1970s. Contact the Hon. Sec. for the full list and for more information.

Contents of Richard Jefferies Society Journals
Newer members of the Society may like to know of the interesting articles and smaller Jefferies’ works to be found in back numbers of the journals which can be purchased from the Society by mail order. Below is a list of the titles.

Number 1 – 1992
Alone in London… by Richard Jefferies
T.T.T. by Richard Jefferies
Greater Gardens by Richard Jefferies
Lawn Preserves by Richard Jefferies
Edward Thomas on the Country of Richard Jefferies by Andrew Rossabi
Letter to W H Hudson by Edward Thomas
Mouching Through Jefferies by Brian Rich
Richard Jefferies and the Plesiosaur by Phyllis Treitel
A Collector’s List of Jefferies Titles

Number 2 – 1993
Reporting; Editing & Authorship (Part) by Richard Jefferies
English Socialists by Richard Jefferies
The Future of Farming; letter to Times of 15 October 1873 by Richard Jefferies
Jefferies’ Reading by W J Keith
A Tribute to Bill Keith by Andrew Rossabi
The Other Side: Visions of America by Phyllis Treitel
Book Reviews: 1) Richard Jefferies. A Bibliographical Study. 2 ) Hodge & His Masters: a new edition

Number 3 – 1994
Reporting; Editing & Authorship (Part) by Richard Jefferies
Chapters on Churches I by Richard Jefferies
The Nude in London by Richard Jefferies
Mound Restorers by Richard Jefferies
The Bevis Country by Mark Daniel
Book Reviews: 1) The Marlborough Downs. 2) Life of Henry David Thoreau

Number 4 – 1995
Chapters on Churches II by Richard Jefferies
January Notes by Richard Jefferies
The Midnight Skate by Richard Jefferies
The Fiction of Richard Jefferies by Edward Thomas
On ‘The Scarlet Shawl’ by Andrew Rossabi
‘The Forward Life of Richard Jefferies’: A Personal Response by W J Keith

Number 5 – 1996
A Book Review – ‘Sport & Nature in Scotland’ by Richard Jefferies
Charles Jefferies by Nancie D Jefferies Cator
An Uncomfortable Antiquary:Richard Jefferies and Victorian Local History by John Chandler
History and Tradition in Richard Jefferies’ ‘Three Centuries at Home’ by J B Smith
Jefferies and Cassell’s Family Magazine by W J Keith
Book Review: Nearly out of Heart and Hope.
Cyril Wright 1909-1995
Index – Numbers 1-5

Number 6 – 1997
Chapters on Churches by Richard Jefferies
The Dragon at Ashdown by Richard Jefferies
Sun-spots by Richard Jefferies
Richard Jefferies at Tolworth by Peter K Robins
Voyage to the Unknown Island: an exploration of Richard Jefferies’ Bevis by Jonathan Calder

Number 7 – 1998
The Gamekeeper’s Larder by Richard Jefferies
The Coming Voter by Richard Jefferies
Richard Jefferies ‘The Coming Voter’ by Diana Morrow
Richard Jefferies, Bevis and Children’s Literature by Peter Hunt

Number 8 – 1999
Jack Brass, Emperor of England by Richard Jefferies
Thoughts on the Labour Question by Richard Jefferies
‘Thoughts on the Labour Question’: An Alternative View by Diana Morrow
Book Review: Writers in a Landscape.

Number 9 – 2000
Richard Jefferies: A Personal Discovery by Jeremy Hooker
Richard Jefferies in Germany by Peter Eyink
Introduction to the German edition of ‘The Story of My Heart’ by Ellen Key
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by Andrew Rossabi
Book Review: Wessex-Peter Tolhurst

Number 10 – 2001
Chapters on Churches III by Richard Jefferies
Richard Jefferies and Birds by W J Keith
The Art and Craft of Richard Jefferies by John Savage
Book Review: The English Path
Index numbers 6-10

Number 11 – 2002
In Summer Fields by Richard Jefferies
The Dewy Morn: Jefferies, Being and History by Roger Ebbatson
Richard Jefferies and Thomas Hardy: Parallel Lives? by Carolyn Clarke
Was ‘Dad’ Uzzell ever at Hodson Cottage? by Ken Watts
Book Review: At Home on the Earth

Number 12 – 2003
The Man of the Future by Richard Jefferies
A Fragment of Manuscript by Richard Jefferies
Could Richard Jefferies have been an Artist instead of a Writer? by Andrew Rossabi
Time and Eternity in Jefferies’ Thought by Simon Coleman

Number 13 – 2004
Selections from Richard Jefferies’ 1876 Notebook by John Pearson
Margaret Thomas, Sculptor of the Bust of Richard Jefferies in Salisbury Cathedral by Kedrun Laurie
Kisses of the Sun by Jo-Anne Smith

Number 14 – 2005
Selections from Richard Jefferies’ 1876 Notebook by John Pearson
Richard Jefferies’ Writing Criticised and Defended by Eric Jones
Henry Williamson’s Debt to Richard Jefferies by Richard Stewart
Book Review: Henry Williamson: A Bibliography

Number 15 – 2006
Selections from Richard Jefferies’ 1876 Notebook by John Pearson
Humanity and Natural History by Richard Jefferies
Richard Jefferies: An Independent Mind by Hugoe Matthews
Literary Landscapes, Richard Jefferies and the Planning Inspector by Mark Daniel
Book Reviews: 1) Landscape, Writing and ‘The Condition of England’, 1878-1917, Ruskin to Modernism and 2) An Imaginary England. Nation, Landscape and Literature, 1840-1920
Index numbers 11-15

Back numbers of the Journal can be obtained at £1 each from Norma Goodwin,“Wildings”, 3A Momford Road, Oliver’s Battery, Winchester, Hants. SO22 4LE.The price of postage 2nd class is as follows
1 journal 37p
2-3 journals 55p
4-7 journals 75p
8-9 journals £1.39
10 journals £1.77
Please contact Norma either by telephone 01962 864684 or email her on if you have any questions about the articles.


Saturday Annual General Meeting at Church Hall, Chiseldon.
14 October Birthday Lecture .
Speaker - Martin Haggerty:
‘William Morris and the English Countryside’.
For details, see pages 27-33.

Saturday 2 December* Harold Adams Archives. The Society’s archives will soon be deposited at Trowbridge. Early scrapbooks, photographs, reports, some never shown before, will be brought for display and discussion, before translocation to the Record Office.

Saturday 3 March* Joint meeting with the Friends of Alfred Williams. Select an appropriate short extract [no longer than 5 minutes] for reading or just come along and listen.
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* Joint Swindon Literary Festival event. Subject to be announced.
Saturday 28 July STUDY DAY. A suggested theme is ‘Jefferies and children’s literature’. We might compare and contrast books written for/about children around Jefferies’ time with Jefferies’ own works. More information in next newsletter.
Saturday 1 December* To be arranged.

*Meetings begin at 2.00pm in the Coate Museum, Marlborough Road, Swindon next to the Sun Inn and on the corner of Day House Lane [see map on previous page]. Parking is free at Coate Water, only 3 minutes walk away. Those with a disability can park at the Museum, although space is limited. Visitors are welcome. There is no charge. The Museum will be open from 1.00pm on meeting days.

The Museum is also open on the second Wednesday of the month throughout the year from 10am to 4pm as well as the usual Sunday arrangements from May to September. The “Footsteps” workshop is also held on the same Wednesdays.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Victorian Country Writers Celebrated

The RICHARD JEFFERIES SOCIETY is holding its Annual General Meeting and Birthday Lecture on Saturday 14th October in Chiseldon Church Hall.

The afternoon session, starting at 2.30 p.m., is devoted to the subject of 'William Morris and the English Countryside'. The Birthday Lecture will be given by Martin Haggerty [1], a researcher and writer who specialises in aspects of English cultural history. He has published work on a wide range of themes, from landscape to philosophy and from architecture to music, but most typically on literary topics. He is also an environmental campaigner.

Both William Morris and Richard Jefferies drew inspiration for their writing from the English countryside, especially the landscapes of Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. Although they were contemporaries (Morris was born in 1834 and Jefferies in 1848) and Morris was the tenant of Kelmscott Manor from 1871, when Jefferies was still living at Coate, there is no record of them meeting. However, Morris was deeply impressed by Jefferies' futuristic novel After London (1885) and it provided part of the impetus for him to write his utopian fantasy News from Nowhere (1891). The essays and articles of both writers show their common interest in wildlife, agriculture, antiquities, social reform and much else.

May Morris, William's second daughter, is on record [2] as supporting a proposed monument to Richard Jefferies and Alfred Williams on Liddington Hill in the 1930s.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the Birthday Lecture. Admission is free.

More information from Jean Saunders: 01793 783040.


Editor's Notes

[1] Martin Haggerty has been a member of the Richard Jefferies Society for many years. His other membership includes Friends of the Earth, the Soil Association, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (founded by William Morris), the British Agricultural History Society, Christian Ecology Link and the Rural Theology Association. He holds Master's degrees in both English and Theology and a postgraduate diploma in Heritage Interpretation.

Martin served on the committee of the William Morris Society from 1997 to 2004 and was the editor of their Newsletter for most of that time. Also since 1997, but continuing, he has been a committee member for the Edward Thomas Fellowship, whose website he manages. His earlier voluntary positions include serving as Open Spaces and Footpaths Secretary for the Ramblers' Association, Inner London Area, from 1995 to '98.

An environmentalist since childhood, Martin has in recent years become prominent as a campaigner against GM food and farming. Consequently, since 2004, he has been a national co-ordinator in the Genetic Engineering Network (GEN), working as an intermediary between NGOs, local groups, farmers, scientists and activists involved in the anti-GM campaign across Britain.

After 15 years living in London, Martin moved to Scarborough, North Yorkshire, in 1998. His main recreations are walking in the countryside and growing food on two large organic-permaculture allotments.

[2] Letter to Swindon scholar J B Jones who was seeking support to erect a memorial plaque to Richard Jefferies and Alfred Williams on Liddington Hill. From the late Miss May Morris. Kelmscott Manor; March 9, 1938: About the Memorial on Liddington Hill: the only sort of a memorial I should support would be something entirely plain; such as a natural grey stone, inscribed. I am sure that both those men whom you wish to honour would have much disliked anything that sticks up on a wild and beautiful place (it is the Down you are thinking of, isn't it?) A piece of rugged stone that one would come upon quietly on the hill-side would be appropriate and dignified. I will be pleased to add my name to your list if the Memorial takes this form; otherwise, i.e. if anything monumental is arranged for, I must be out of it.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Jefferies' tree at Coate Water immortalised by plaque


A new wooden plaque will be unveiled at Coate Water at 12 noon on Sunday 10th September, as part of the Heritage Day celebrations, to commemorate an oak tree that was immortalised by Richard Jefferies in his boys' adventure story, Bevis [1] first published in 1882.

The 'Council Oak', as Jefferies described it, is an ancient tree growing alongside the eastern shore of Coate Water lake near the children's sand-pit. It is a place of pilgrimage for devotees of Jefferies' writing.

Richard Jefferies, born in 1848, was raised at Jefferies Farm - now a Museum - some 500 metres from the tree. Bevis reflects Jefferies' own childhood adventures around Coate. In the book, the tree was the meeting place for local boys to plan their council of war that led to their mock battle in the nearby field, on Day House farm, named the 'Battlefield of Pharsalia'. The tree was chosen because "it was known by everyone. It grew all alone in the meadow, and far from any path, so that they could talk as they liked". Coate Water was called the 'New Sea' by Bevis.

The tree's position was marked on maps published in various editions of the book.

Around 1990, this magnificent oak tree suffered from a natural and rare condition known as 'limb drop' whereby it lost its crown.

Another victim of age was the wooden plaque erected next to the tree made by Cyril Wright, a long-standing secretary of the Richard Jefferies Society.

The new plaque was made by students at Dorcan Technical College under the supervision of teacher, Ivan Kirk. The school has added a dedication to teacher, John Venables, who was instrumental in getting the plaque accepted as a project. His sudden death this year came as a shock to all.

Ray Morse, Vice-chairman of the Richard Jefferies Society, said:

"John Venables was energetic and full of enthusiasm to help when I asked if his students might make a new plaque for the tree. The 'Council Oak' is part of our literary heritage. The new memorial plate not only acts as a marker but celebrates the passing of a great local writer as well as friends old and new".

John Price, the Chairman of the Richard Jefferies Society, will welcome friends of Richard Jefferies and Coate Water to the unveiling ceremony at 12 noon on Sunday and read a relevant extract from Bevis. The Jefferies Museum will be open later from 2-5pm.

- ENDS -

Editor's notes:


"I say!"

''Battleaxes - '' "St. George is right 'Hold your tongue." 'Pikes twenty feet long." 'Marching two and two." 'Do stop." 'I shall be general." 'That you won't." 'Romans had shields."

'Battleaxes are best." 'Knobs with spikes." 'I say - I say!" 'You're a donkey!" 'They had flags - " 'And drums." 'I've got a flute."

'You!" 'Yes, me."

'Hi!" "Tom." "If you hit me, I'll hit you." "Now." "Don't." "Be quiet." "Go on." "Let's begin." "I will" - buzz - buzz - buzz !

Phil, Tom, Ted, Jim, Frank, Walter, Bill, "Charl," Val, Bob, Cecil, Sam,Fred, George, Harry, Michael, Jack, Andrew, Luke, and half a dozen more were talking all together, shouting across each other, occasionally fighting, wrestling, and rolling over on the sward under an oak. There were two up in the tree, bellowing their views from above, and little Charlie ("Charl") was astride of a bough which he had got hold of, swinging up and down, and yelling like the rest. Some stood by the edge of the water, for the oak was within a few yards of the New Sea, and alternately made ducks and drakes, and turned to contradict their friends.

On higher ground beyond, a herd of cows grazed in perfect peace, while the swallows threaded a maze in and out between them, but just above the grass.

The New Sea was calm and smooth as glass, the sun shone in a cloudless sky, so that the shadow of the oak was pleasant; but the swallows had come down from the upper air, and Bevis, as he stood a little apart listening in an abstracted manner to the uproar, watched them swiftly gliding in and out. He had convened a council of all those who wanted to join the war in the fields, because it seemed best to keep the matter secret, which could not be done if they came to the house, else perhaps the battle would be interfered with. This oak was chosen as it was known to everyone.

It grew all alone in the meadow, and far from any path, so that they could talk as they liked."