Cotswold Ways

En­joy a gen­tle River Sev­ern walk in the foot­steps of a poetic friend­ship

Cotswold Life - - INSIDE - WRITER: Ke­van Man­war­ing

Pic­ture two young men in a small sail­ing boat pur­chased for five pounds from a lock-keeper, idling their days when time stretched lux­u­ri­antly as the wind­ing Sev­ern, a feather boa of wa­ter cast over the shoul­der of Wales. As the frag­ile craft braved the chancy cur­rents and de­cep­tive sand­banks of Sab­rina they shared their hopes and dreams, their pas­sion for mu­sic and po­etry. Their names were Will and Ivor and they were kings of the wa­ter when all things seemed pos­si­ble in a shin­ing new cen­tury not yet tar­nished by war.

A chance meet­ing on a tram in 1908 re­sulted in this spe­cial friend­ship be­tween Fred­er­ick Wil­liam ‘Will’ Har­vey, train­ing to be a so­lic­i­tor, and Ivor Gur­ney, a promis­ing young mu­si­cian men­tored by the or­gan­ist of

Gloucester Cathe­dral. Both for­mer pupils of King’s School in the city, they quickly dis­cov­ered their mu­tual pas­sion for mu­sic and na­ture. There fol­lowed golden days of walk­ing, talk­ing, and tak­ing to the wa­ter. Gur­ney loved to visit Har­vey’s fam­ily home in Min­ster­worth, where they en­joyed many a pleas­ant hour amid the books, pi­ano, good food and com­pany, as Har­vey rem­i­nisced in his poem Af­ter-glow, writ­ten in a

pris­oner of war camp in 1917: “Out of the smoke and dust of the lit­tle room/ With tea-talk loud and laugh­ter of

happy boys…” Har­vey en­cour­aged Gur­ney’s po­etry, and the two be­came vir­tu­ally in­sep­a­ra­ble, ‘One soul up­rapt’, who savoured ‘The joy of fire­light and the sunken sun’ (FW Har­vey). Gur­ney’s pur­chase of the boat pro­vided them with the means to sail the Sev­ern, al­though Gur­ney’s reck­less na­ture led to a few close calls. On Dorothy, named af­ter his sis­ter, they fre­quently sailed up­stream from Framilode, as FW Har­vey re­lates in his poem Bal­lade of River Sail­ing. Both mirac­u­lously sur­vived the war – FW Har­vey, dec­o­rated for brav­ery and ris­ing to the rank of of­fi­cer, went on to be­come a so­lic­i­tor; but Gur­ney, nar­rowly es­cap­ing death by gassing, was scarred by the con­flict in ways that af­fected him the rest of his life. His men­tal health de­te­ri­o­rated and he was even­tu­ally placed in an asy­lum in Dart­ford, Kent for the last 15 years of his life, far from his beloved Glouces­ter­shire. Har­vey never for­got the friend­ship he en­joyed with Gur­ney and he evoked those ‘golden days’ in his po­etry, as he be­came ‘the Lau­re­ate of Glouces­ter­shire’ and the ‘For­est

Or­chard dwellers along­side the River Sev­ern at Min­ster­worth

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.