Tuesday, December 06, 2022

John Masefield and Traffic at Aston Tirrold

Now we're well into Advent it's high time I posted the opening titles of The Box of Delights.

Job done.

In order to qualify as a regular reader of Liberal England, you have to know that the cottage where the band Traffic got it together in the country in 1967 was near the Berkshire village of Aston Tirrold.

Years ago, I got excited because John Masefield's first book about Kay Harker sees him setting out to discover what became of a fortune stolen from his great grandfather Aston Tirrold Harker.

But Masefield's connection with the village is closer than that. The Astons website reveals that he lived at Lollington Farm, Aston Tirrold, between 1914 and 1917.

And Battlelines Redrawn, a website devoted to war artists, has a quote from Masefield (though it doesn't say where it is taken from):

In the first week of July, 1914, I was in an old house in Berkshire, a house built eight centuries ago before by the monks as a place of rest and contemplation and beauty. 

I had never seen England so beautiful as then, and a little company of lovely friends was there. Rupert Brooke was one of them, and we read poems in that old haunt of beauty, and wandered on the Downs. 

I remember saying that the Austro-Serbian business might cause a European War, in which we might be involved, but the others did not think this likely; they laughed.

Lollington Farm and Traffic's cottage aren't next door to each other, but both are out of the village on its southern side.


A Rambling Ducky said...

The Mansfield quotation is from "St George and the Dragon - A Speech for St George's Day 1918", made in the USA and published in The War and the Future.

Just after the passage quoted he says:

"Then came more anxious days, and then a week of terror, and then good-bye to that old life, and my old home in Berkshire was a billet for cavalry, and their chargers drank at the moat. I saw them there. And the next time I saw them they were in Gallipoli, lying in rank in the sand under Chocolate Hill, and Rupert was in his grave in Skyros"

Jonathan Calder said...

Thank you! It reminded me a little of 40 Years On.

Andrew Kitching said...

Sadly the village was transferred to Oxfordshirre in 1974 (I believe with Abingdon too). Berkshire was considerably diminished by the local government reorganisation.

That'snotmyname said...

I call it "Occupied North Berkshire".

Jonathan Calder said...

That's a shame, Andrew. There's a Traffic song called Berkshire Poppies from this period (with the Small Faces, unmistakably, singing backing vocals).