Shropshire Surprise for Poet’s Admirers
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”.
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.
Right: No steeple, but a very attractive brick and timber bell tower — St. John the Baptist Church at Hughley, Shropshire.