An Edward Thomas Gazetteer

An Edward Thomas Gazetteer

 

 

A selection of Thomas’s descriptions of places:

 

Albury

Albury is one of those villages possessing a neglected old church and a brand-new one.  In this case the new is a decent enough one of alternating flint and stone, built among trees on a gradual rise.  But the old one is too much like a shameless unburied corpse. (In Pursuit of Spring)

 

Ashtead

It appeared to be a collection of residences about as incapable of self-support as could anywhere be found – a private-looking, respectable, inhospitable place that made the rain colder, and doubtless, in turn, coloured the spectacles it was seen through.  The name of its inn, the “Leg of Mutton and Cauliflower,” may be venerable, but it smacked of suburban fancy, as if it had been bestowed to catch the pennies of easy-going lovers of quaintness. (In Pursuit of Spring)

 

Aston Upthorpe

Aston Upthorpe church was a small tiled building with a stupid little spire stuck on yesterday, to show that it was not part of the neighbouring tiled farm and out-houses. The village hid itself well on both sides under its elms. From the east it seemed all trees and orchards, from the west only the new thatch of a rick betrayed it. (The Icknield Way)

 

Bishop’s Sutton

Passing the “Plough” and the “Ship” (kept by a man with the great Hampshire name of Port), I went into the church, which was decorated by the memorial tablets of people named Wright and an eighteenth century physician named William Cowper, and by daffodils and primroses arranged in moss and jam jars. (In Pursuit of Spring)

 

Chawton

Here the road forks at a smithy, among uncrowded thatched cottages and chestnuts and beeches. The village is well aware of the fact that Jane Austen once dwelt in a house at the fork there, opposite the “Grey Friar.” (In Pursuit of Spring)

 

Dunstable

The crossing of the Icknield Way and Watling Street makes Dunstable. Watling Street was wider and had the town hall, the post office, the bigger shops, and the chief inns. The Icknield Way, known first as Church Street, then as West Street, was the more rustic, humble, and informal, and beyond the crossing it had trees by its side; and this seemed natural and just. It had become thoroughly suburban before leaving the town and coming to the smooth high downs on the left, where children were playing and girls walking about above a field of barley and charlock beside the road. (The Icknield Way)

 

Dunwich

Oh Dunwich is beautiful.  I am on a heaving moor of heather & close gorse up & down & ending in a sandy cliff about 80 feet perpendicular & the black, peat strewn fine sand below. On the edge of this 1 1/2  miles away is the ruined church that has half fallen over already.  Four arches & a broken tower, pale & airy.  Just beyond that the higher moor dips to quite flat marsh with gentlest rises inland with masses of trees compact & dark & a perfect huge curve of foamy coast up to the red light at Southwold northward. (to Gordon Bottomley)

 

Hampstead Heath

the houses are nothing but a frame: they do not combine the heath; they neither influence it nor receive any influence from it.  They stand bald and impotent at the edge of this fragment of the wild. (The Last Sheaf)

 

Richmond 

Richmond Park has all the qualities of other parks, the unploughed undulations, the old trees, irregularly but happily scattered, the winding, well-kept roads, the cloistered wilderness, the deer, the squirrels, the jackdaws, the notice-boards; but they appear to be in greater perfection, because the walls keep in the deer and the peace, but keep out London.  Of course, they keep out other things, so that in a sense the park is only half real, as if it were under a glass-case. (The Last Sheaf)

 

Stow-on-the-Wold

Stow on the Wold is perfectly silent after a day of wind & rain, except the choir practising in the church over the way.  It is a little stone town on a slope & summit of the Cotswolds & looks far away east over floods & red plough land.  (to Gordon Bottomley)

 

Stratford-upon-Avon

Chance has brought me to Stratford upon Avon where it is evident Shakespeare once lived & is not alive now.  I shall leave it to the tradespeople tho I am too tired to walk beyond it tonight.  I wonder what a man would do here who was not afflicted by the spectacle of trade? (to Gordon Bottomley)

 

Swansea

Year after year I go there (I do not mean to the Mumbles, but to the town, and nothing but the town), and walk up and down it and round about, inhaling sea air and mountain air, or the smells from copper works, cobalt works, manure works, and fried-fish shops; year after year I have felt that only friends could bring me again to Swansea.  But the town is a dirty witch.  You must hate or love her, and I both love her and hate her, and return to her as often as four times in a year. (The Last Sheaf)

 

Walberswick

I was at Walberswick today, pestered by inane pretty houses, paintable bits & an elderly aesthetic lady with youthful ankles & neat old cottage furniture.  But the dreary intersected marshes & invisible sounding sea in twilight mists repaid me a little – with a hump of woods just visible as culmination of the mist. (to Gordon Bottomley)

 

Westminster

Of all the mud I have known, the most beautiful is that which is often to be seen on the bank of [the] Thames below Waterloo bridge, lying like a crude monster, while the sunset is rosy and green and purple on its flanks, and two swans float and barges heave at rest; or while at dawn the city is all its own, a quiet grey city that has vanished when the mud has sunk below the tide. (Rose Acre Papers)