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eNews Note 02 – May 2019

Last updated on 14th February 2021

In this note:

    • An article about the Friends of Steep Church and the work they have paid for to protect the Memorial Windows in Steep Church
    • News of a Poetry event in Portsmouth in June that will feature a talk about Edward Thomas
    • An opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Edward Thomas in July
    • An update about the joint Edward Thomas Fellowship / John Clare Society Study Day in September
    • A note about the Friends of the Dymock Poets Autumn Weekend in October
    • Ben Mackay is looking for volunteers to ‘trial’ his “In Pursuit of Spring” Walks
    • A copy of the draft minutes from this year’s AGM
    • And finally a 2020 date for your diary

Welcome to the second eNewsnote, which is intended to keep members of the Fellowship up to date with forthcoming events (which will also be featured on the Fellowship’s website) and other news that may be of interest.

If you do become aware of events featuring Edward Thomas that may be of interest, even if they may only be local to you, please let me know ( so that they may go on the website and perhaps open them up to a wider audience.

Whilst on the subject of the website, members may be interested to know that the Bodleian Library curators have selected our website as being of lasting research value and worthy of permanent preservation in the Web Archive of the Bodleian Libraries.

The following is a link to the webarchive pages at the Bodleian:

If you have any feedback about this newsnote, or any other comment about the Fellowship please let me know at the email address above.

If you are reading this and are not yet a member, joining is easy and only costs £15 per household per annum – visit to download an application.

Jeremy Mitchell (Chair, ETF)

Church of All Saints, Steep.

As all readers familiar with Steep will know, there are two small windows on the South wall of the Church of All Saints which celebrate Edward Thomas.

To the left, one can see a green road across hills bordered by yews and flowers. The poet’s jacket hangs on a branch with his stick beside it.

To the right one can read his poem ‘The New House’, which is situated on a hilltop above Steep where Edward and his family lived for a while (Ed: I recently had the privilege of visiting the house, with my wife, at the invitation of the owners). Underneath the poem there are a series of doors, one of which opens on a Flanders battlefield.

These Memorial windows were originally designed and engraved by Laurence Whistler and were dedicated by R.S. Thomas in 1978 on the centenary of Edward Thomas‘s birth.

Sadly, one night in September 2010 vandals broke into the church by smashing the window on the right-hand side.

A replica of the original was engraved by Tony Gilliam who knew Laurence Whistler. This new window was blessed and dedicated in December 2013 by the Rt. Rev. Rowan Williams.

However, these Memorial Windows remained vulnerable to potential criminal damage as they did not enjoy any solid protection from the outside.

One of the first major projects of FOSC, the Friends of Steep Church, was to raise money for an enhanced protection glass to be fitted on the outside.

Friends of Steep Church is a Charity which has been set up to conserve and enhance the church for future generations. Its formal purpose is ‘to assist in the restoration, preservation, maintenance, repair, improvement and beautification of the Parish Church of All Saints, Steep”.

FOSC raised £2692.80 for this enhanced protection for the Edward Thomas Memorial Window. It is so well installed that it is totally invisible from inside the church.

The Friends of Steep Church hold regular events: an annual candlelit Carol Service and a Trivia quiz, as well as concerts, lectures, exhibitions, and other fund-raising activities.

In June 2017, there were two very successful events:  an Edward Thomas Flower show and an Edward Thomas Poetry event.

The next FOSC event: STEEP Open Gardens, is organised jointly with Perennial Charity (Perennial, dedicated to help people who work in horticulture). It will take place on 15th and 16th June from 2.00 -5.00p.m., tickets: £6.00 per adult, children free.  Tickets are available from: or tel: 01962773664.

If you are interested in supporting this FOSC Charity by giving an annual subscription of £ 15.00 (minimum) please contact: The Secretary, Friends of Steep Church, 77 Church Road, Steep GU32 2 DF, mentioning that you are a member of the Edward Thomas Fellowship.

Thank you.
Marie-Marthe Gervais (Trustee of FOSC)

Portsmouth Poetry Presents ……..








An opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Edward Thomas

On 6 July 2019 Discover Frome are staging a walk in the footsteps of Edward Thomas, stopping at sites he visited to share readings from his works and poetry.

Further details may be found at

Edward Thomas/John Clare Study Day
Saturday September 21st 2019

Planning for Study Day is now at an advanced stage.

Currently, 61 of the 80 places have been allocated and you may by now have received your detailed information sheets.

Applications are open to members of either the Edward Thomas Fellowship or the John Clare Society until June 30th 2019. After that date applications can be made by non-members.

If you would like further information and/or an application form please email David Kerslake at

Thank you.

Friends of the Dymock Poets
Poetry and Place: FDP Autumn Weekend, 5th and 6th October 2019

The autumn event this year is called Poetry and Place and will take place in the Burgage Hall, Church Lane, Ledbury at 11.30 a.m., following the annual general meeting, on Saturday 5th October.

The ways in which the individual poets who collected around Dymock just over 100 years ago translated their responses to the Dymock environment into poetry differed markedly.

The ways in which their contemporary Ivor Gurney experienced the Gloucestershire landscape and responded to it through verse were different again. Like the Dymock poets, Gerard Manley Hopkins rebelled against mannered Victorian poetry in verse by concentrating on the realities of rural landscapes and their inhabitants, human, and non-human.

Our discussion will compare and contrast the ways in which place inspired the poetry through talks by Professor Kelsey Thornton, FDP President and the author of many works about Gerard Manley Hopkins, Eleanor Rawling MBE, the author of Ivor Gurney’s Gloucestershire: Exploring Poetry and Place, and long-time FDP member and countryside writer Marion Shoard. There will be plenty of time for questions.

Our walk on the morning of Sunday 6th October starts from a former gamekeeper’s cottage on the edge of Astwood, an ancient woodland two miles west of Ledbury. After coffee in the cottage and an introduction to the walk by co-leaders Marion Shoard and Charles Watkins, professor of rural geography at Nottingham University and the chair of the Victoria County History of Herefordshire, we will set out on a circular stroll in the vicinity of Astwood, with stops to read poems and to contrast the use of the countryside in the poets’ compared with the present day.

We will return to the former gamekeeper’s cottage for tea, coffee and to eat our sandwiches, then drive one-and-a-half miles to Putley village hall, where we will leave cars and set off for a circular walk around Putley, with stops for poems (not least those with an apple theme) and features of  interest. Attenders can opt for the morning walk, the afternoon walk or the whole day.

Detail to be confirmed

In Pursuit of Spring walks
Volunteers Required Please

I am looking for volunteers to try out walks along the route of In Pursuit of Spring, which I have created, walked and for which I have typed up detailed instructions for walkers, combined with Thomas’s own words relating to the area as well as background information on each location.

I am looking for volunteers to actually walk the route and give me any feedback, particularly anything that will make the instructions clearer.  Those indicated in bold italics already have volunteers who came forward at the AGM.

I am hoping that they will be published in some form at a later date. Any assistance will be acknowledged in the published format.

Thank you in anticipation,

Ben Mackay 
T:  07812327125 / 01179530912

Edward Thomas Volunteer Walkers

The Edward Thomas Fellowship

Annual General Meeting – held at All Saints Church, Steep, Hampshire on Sunday 3 March 2019 at 4.00 pm

Draft Minutes

There were approximately 28 members present and the meeting began at 1610h

  1. Chairman’s opening remarks: The Chairman welcomed everyone, thanked the ladies and gentlemen of Steep for their warm welcome and their excellent tea and cakes. He also thanked the PCC for making the church available for the meeting He thanked Mike Cope for devising and leading the birthday walks and the residents of Berryfields Cottage and Yew Tree Cottage for their assistance Marie-Marthe Gervais and FOSC (Friends of Steep Church) were thanked for their commendable work which included raising funds to protect the Edward Thomas Memorial Windows in the church. They will be holding an Open Gardens event on 15 and 16 June. Finally, he recorded his thanks to the ETF committee and membership for support in this his first year as chairman and for assistance with launching the new website.
  2. Apologies had been received from Chris Brown, David Kerslake, Colin Thornton, Wendy Pegler, Ian Morton and Julia Maxted. The meeting noted the birth of Julia’s grandson and will be sending congratulations
  3. Minutes of last AGM and matters arising: It was noted that Pam and Steve Turner had sent their apologies last year but their names had been omitted. An appropriate amendment was made to last year’s minutes which were then accepted as a true record. Proposer: Marie-Marthe Gervais, seconder Lucy Milnez
  4. Secretary’s report: The Chairman read the Membership Secretary’s report and then appealed for someone to come forward as Secretary to help in the formulation of agendas and administrative matters. Regarding membership, there were 9 new members as against 7 leavers.73% had paid the full subscription for 2019. In future a standing order will be adopted as first preference for subscriptions.
  5. Treasurer’s report: From a deficit for last year of £600+, this year shows a surplus of £1,757, boosted by notebook sales and transfer in of the Agny surplus. The Agny surplus will be used to help pay for the new website. Thanks were given to Margaret Keeping for the Poetry Competition which had brought in a profit and consideration was being given to the publication of the winning and best poems. The report was accepted as a true record. Proposer: Richard Emeny, seconder Cynthia Lloyd
  6. Outreach report: A study day developed by the ETF with the John Clare Society will be held on 21 September.
  7. The timing of the Birthday walk: the chairman asked for a consultative show of hands for those in favour of retaining the March Date (16) and a switch to April (8). There was 1 abstention. Doug Newbigging suggested that in the event of inclement weather and the morning walk had to be postponed, there could be an alternative afternoon of readings, film or other presentations, concluding with the AGM. This will be discussed at the next committee meeting.
  8. Poetry Competition: Over 300 poems had been submitted by 175 entrants. Jane Draycott had adjudicated and praised the high level of the final list for their Thomas-related themes of light and darkness, seasonal change and meditative content. The 1st prize was won by Maggie Davison of Hexham, Northumberland for her poem, Jacket which was read by Margaret Keeping (Thompson), the competition organiser. The two joint prize-winners were Richard Meier for Faculties and Oliver Comins for Winter Search, which Jane Draycott identified as ‘a stand-out gem’. Oliver attended the AGM and read his poem. These poems will go on to the website. The Chair gave the Fellowship’s thanks to Margaret Keeping for all her work.
  9. Edward Thomas Study Centre: the Petersfield Museum will be closed till late 2020. The Tim Wilton Steer books can continue to be viewed by appointment. Donations of books and papers were coming in. These included a 1938 talk to Cardiff University by Helen Thomas. Appreciation was noted for the donation by Anna Corbett of a memoir by Lady Dorothy MacAllister on her husband Sir Ian MacAllister whose lifelong friendship with Edward Thomas originated at St Paul’s.
  10. AOB
    1. Ben Mackay appealed for volunteers to try out any of his 27 walks along the route of In Pursuit of Spring and to give him robust feedback – 9 people came forward.
    2. On Tuesday 5 March the Petersfield Museum will be hosting a talk by Jeff Towns on his recent publication Edward Thomas and Wales.
  11. Barbara Davis Tribute Tribute was paid to Barbara Davis, one of the founders of the Friends of Dymock Poets, who died before Christmas. Joy Francis had represented the ETF at a celebration of her life and work. Jeremy read a moving reflection by Richard Simkin (Chair of FDP) on the heartening influence of Barbara on local life, the Society, the John Masefield Society and her championing of footpath access. A reading of a poem in her honour by Sean Street – Map reading: in memory of Barbara Davis – concluded the AGM. The meeting closed at 1700.

Subscriptions 2019

A reminder that the membership subscription for 2019 is £15 per household and that only subscribing members receive a copy of the half-yearly newsletter.

Many thanks to those members who have already paid their £15 membership subscription for 2019 in full.

If you have any questions concerning your subscription, please contact the Membership Secretary David Kerslake at

Thank you.

In closure

Thank you all once again for your support of the Fellowship and please put in your diary Saturday 13th June 2020 for an event to be held in Petersfield, along the lines of the one in 2017. Further details will follow and be added to the website in due course.
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