Shrop­shire Sur­prise for Poet’s Ad­mir­ers

This England - - News - LYNNE HAYWARD

A sur­prise awaits ad­mir­ers of the poet A.E. Hous­man if they pay a visit to one of the places men­tioned in A Shrop­shire Lad.

Hous­man cel­e­brates the vil­lage church at Hugh­ley, near Much Wen­lock, in his much-loved cy­cle of 63 verses, pub­lished in 1896.

He writes: “The vane on Hugh­ley steeple, veers bright a far known sign. And there lie Hugh­ley peo­ple, and there lie friends of mine.”

But Hous­man was em­ploy­ing artis­tic li­cence and in fact there is no steeple at Hugh­ley — although it does have a brick and tim­ber bell tower.

An­other sur­prise for lovers of the poet’s evoca­tive work is the fact that he wasn’t a Shrop­shire lad at all. Al­fred Ed­ward Hous­man was born near Broms­grove, in Worces­ter­shire, in 1859, but had “a sen­ti­men­tal feel­ing for Shrop­shire be­cause its hills were our western hori­zon”.

How­ever, his name is in­deli­bly associated with his land of lost con­tent, in life as well as in death.

His ashes are buried in the grounds of St Lau­rence’s Church in Lud­low, Shrop­shire, within sight of “those blue re­mem­bered hills”.

MIKE HAYWARD

Above: The tower of St. Lau­rence’s Church — where A. E. Hous­man’s ashes are buried — stands proud above the mar­ket town of Lud­low, Shrop­shire.

JOHN HAYWARD

Right: No steeple, but a very at­trac­tive brick and tim­ber bell tower — St. John the Bap­tist Church at Hugh­ley, Shrop­shire.

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