The Poet’s Stone

The Poet’s Stone

The Poet’s Stone

or

The Edward Thomas Memorial Stone

Listed Grade II, erected 1937

The stone contains an octagonal bronze plaque, designed by Professor Sir Patrick Leslie Abercrombie.

It is inscribed:

THIS HILLSIDE

IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF

EDWARD THOMAS

POET

Born in Lambeth 3rd March 1878

Killed in the Battle of Arras 9 April 1917

AND I ROSE UP AND KNEW

THAT I WAS TIRED

AND CONTINUED MY JOURNEY

Lord Horder of Ashford Chace owned the land when the stone was erected. He dedicated the hillside in perpetuity to Edward Thomas. An informal ceremony took place at 2.30pm on Saturday 2nd October 1937, with an address by the Poet Laureate John Masefield. The stone was unveiled by Lord Horder.

William Whiteman in his booklet ‘The Edward Thomas Country’ writes:

Steep and Froxfield, at the foot and the top of the East Hampshire hangers, had a special place in his life. With his family he had, three homes there, from 1906 – 1916., the longest period in his too short life that he stayed in any district, the period when he produced most of his prose and collected most of his impressions that went into his poetry. Those who know the area can recognise the references and can look at the very sights that inspired him. A large part of the poetry is suffused by the spirit of the place. His memorial a Sarsen stone or boulder brought from Avebury in Wiltshire was rightly set up in Steep, high on the hillside which he knew so well, beside a path which he climbed so often. It was in his mind during his last year, in the Army, when he went on writing poetry, disregarding the lines so that his hut-mates should not see he was writing verse. In 1917, at the age of 39, he could have stayed in home defence, but he volunteered for France. Only a few months before going there, he visited Steep for the last time in, as his friends remembered, a calm readiness to die for England, not from patriotism but from love.

There is more about the sourcing of the Sarsen stone for the memorial from Kennett in Wiltshire and its removal to Steep in an article by Colin Thornton in the Edward Thomas Newsletter no. 66 August 2011.

The Ashford Hangers, where the Poet’s Stone stands, are now (2019) managed by Hampshire Countryside. The stone stands beside the Hangers Way footpath. The hillside on which the stone is situated is known locally as the Shoulder of Mutton.

Read more about Edward Thomas in the People section of this website:

https://historyofsteep.co.uk/portfolio/edward-thomas-and-steep/

East Hampshire District Council has produced a walks leaflet taking in the Poet’s Stone and other local places connected with Edward Thomas:

https://www.easthants.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/EdwardThomasWalk.pdf

The Edward Thomas Fellowship website is:

https://edward-thomas-fellowship.org.uk/

 

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