Sheela-na-Gig aka Jeanne Rathbone

Hilda Hewlett- first female licenced pilot and aeroplane manufacturer based in Battersea 1912-1914

Posted in Hilda Hewlett 1st licensed woman pilot n UK by sheelanagigcomedienne on June 20, 2014

Hilda Hewlett was the first woman to qualify as a pilot in the UK.  She was a pioneering aviator and part of the military-production machine in the Great War. In 1912 in Battersea she, with Gustave Blondeau, opened their factory to build the BE2 planes for the Royal Aircraft factory.   Hewlett & Blondeau – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

This is a good time to highlight her as an inspiring and spirited women taking her place in a very male sphere and playing a significant part in the First World War. I am putting her name forward for the Battersea Arts Centre’s request for nominations for Our Good Neighbours scheme of 12 plaques celebrating Battersea’s unsung heros which is intended as a permanent installation as part of their 12o years commemorations. Our Good Neighbours – Battersea Arts Centre     Our-Good-Neighbours






Hilda Hewlett's photograph for her pilot's licence wearing large hat

Hilda Hewlett’s photograph for her pilot’s licence wearing a large hat


 Her grandson’s wife Gail has carried out exhaustive research into the lives of both Hilda and Maurice Hewlett and recently published the results of this work; the book was officially launched on 26 April 2010 at St Peter’s Church in Vauxhall, London. Old Bird. The Irrepressible Mrs Hewlett – Troubador Publishing

Hilda Beatrice Hewlett was born in 1864, the daughter of Rev George W Herbert, the vicar of St Peter’s Vauxhall, and his wife Louisa. She was one of eight children (one of whom had died age 3). She attended the National Art Training School in South Kensington where she specialised in woodwork, metalwork and needlework; three skills that served her well in her later aviation career. She spent time in Egypt with her parents when she was 19 and then at 21 trained as a nurse for a year at a hospital in Berlin. She was a fluent French speaker. Apparently, she only spoke French to Gustave Blondeau.

After marrying Maurice Hewlett in 1888, they wound up living in Northwick Terrace, just of Edgware Road, and she became a keen motorist.  Maurice Hewlett was a romantic novelist. The couple had two children, a daughter, Pia, and a son, Francis, but separated sometime after 1914.  Maurice has unfairly been described as unsympathetic to Hilda’s exploits as an aviator. According to Gail Hewlett he did not at first understand why Hilda, who was known as Billy within the family, was interested in what seemed a new-fangled thing, but he never ever tried to stop her.  What concern he showed was to do with the danger inherent in flying. He was later to invest in the Hewlett & Blondeau company. Hilda said: ‘Maurice was so broadminded about my flying’.

Maurice was a lawyer and had been a partner in his family’s law firm and keeper of land revenue records. However, in 1901, three years after writing a successful romantic novel, he gave up his profession for a literary career.

maurice hewlett  maur 1maur 2maur 3maurice book covmauric

In 1906 she was the passenger/mechanic for Miss Hind, the only female driver in the Land’s End to John O’Groats. At a 1909 event, she met Frenchman Gustave Blondeau with whom she developed a fascination with flying.

After buying an aeroplane and learning how to maintain it, Hewlett and Blondeau set up one of Britain’s first fully-fledged flying schools at Brooklands race track and airfield. One of their first pupils was T.O.M. Sopwith, whose company built the famous Great War fighter plane, the Sopwith Camel, but whose first flight was with Gustave Blondeau.

Another pupil was Hewlett herself, who became the first woman ever to qualify as a pilot in the UK, with Royal Aero Club licence number 122, issued on 29 August 1911. Hilda Hewlett’s pilot’s licence photo, showing her amazing hair and hat combination. Hilda also taught her son Francis who earned his licence number 156 on 14 November 1911 and went on to have a distinguished military aviation career in both the UK and New Zealand, making him the first military pilot taught to fly by his mother. He earned a Distinguished Service Order in 1915 and rose to the rank of Group Captain.


Soon after this, Hewlett and Blondeau went into business building aeroplanes. They opened a factory in Battersea in 1912 and were awarded a contract to build BE2 biplanes for the Royal Aircraft Factory. The first factory called Omnia Works was a disused ice-skating rink which had been had been used by the car firm Mulliners who had briefly gone into aeroplane building. This was at 2-16 Vardens Road, off St John’s Hill near Clapham Junction, where eventually they produced six different types of aircraft. By December 1912 they had built three French Hanriot monoplanes. The blog piece  Before Amelia: Women Pilots in the Early Days of Aviation quotes from Gail Hewlett’s biography some interesting details about Hilda and the trade unions and that Hilda had a flat at 34 Park Mansions on Prince of Wales Drive near Battersea Park whilst they had the factory at Vardens Road.

Finally they settled on a 10 acre site at Leagrave Bedfordshire, in May 1914. By August 1914 the company had produced 6 different types all at Vardens Road and had produced eight other types at Leagrave. During the war the Hewlett’s company manufactored more than 800 military aircraft and and employed up to 700 people. Hewlett and Blondeau made all their own parts and supplied other companies with parts, but they did not make aircraft engines and electrical instruments. Here Hilda was a familiar sight driving her large car with a big dog in the back. She wore sensible clothes and had an Eton crop hair-style. The firm developed a good reputation and was very successful.

After the war the business diversified into making farming equipment, but the factory had closed by the end of October 1920. The site remained unsold until 1926. A road in Luton, Hewlett Road, was named after her in recognition of the importance of the company towards the war effort.

Hilda had set a training school for girls and women in  skills which had been undertaken by men especially welding. Hilda had first hand experience of it a generation before Rosie the Riveter. Hilda was described as an ‘indefatigable worker, good organiser and shrewd business woman’.

Hilda and her aeroplane

Hilda and her aeroplane

After the factory closed down in 1926, she went to New Zealand joining her daughter and her son joined them later. As Hilda explained;  ‘the urge to escape from the three C’s, crowds, convention and civilization became strong’.  According to the website Hewlett, Hilda Beatrice – Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand   “New Zealand also offered Hilda opportunities to camp and fish, other long-time interests. Now 62, she was always addressed as ‘Old Bird’ by family members. It also mentioned that In 1934 Jean Batten, touring New Zealand after her celebrated flight from England to Australia, was welcomed to Tauranga and hosted by Hewlett. The meeting of the two pioneers from different eras was said to have ’caused quite a stir’.

She lived out the last decades of her life in Tauranga, NZ, including being the first president of their Aero and Gliding Club. She died in 1943 and was buried at sea, as she had wished.

I ordered and just started to read her biography which I obtained from the author Gail Hewlett and am relishing it. She described Hilda as” brisk, bracing, intelligent,impatient, intrepid, – excellent qualities in a friend or travelling companion; hardy, energetic and fun-loving – frivolous she would call it; determined and single-minded, more than a little self-centred; not at all prudish, except in matters governed by her own strong moral code and brand of snobbery; warmly affectionate, coldly intolerant , Billy to Old Bird endeared or alienated herself in equal measure.”

Hilda Hewlett is a very worthy person to have her contribution to aviation and Battersea commemorated in some way. A plaque from the the Battersea Society would be great.


It is also important to note here how Battersea has a fascinating aviation connection because alongside Hilda Hewlett and Gustave Blondeau were the Short Brothers who have had a Blue Plaque commemorating them.

This plaque was unveiled September 2013 in Battersea under the arches at Queenstown Road/Queens Circus.

This plaque was unveiled September 2013 in Battersea under the arches at Queenstown Road/Queens Circus.

Britain’s first aircraft manufacturers, Horace, Eustace and Oswald Short have been commemorated with an English Heritage Blue Plaque at their former workshop in the railway arches by Queen’s Circus, Battersea. The plaque was unveiled by Jenny Body OBE, the first female President of the Royal Aeronautical Society, at 2pm on Tuesday 17th September.

Short Brothers








Hilda featured in Brian Barnes mural Battersea in Perspective in 1988 along with Charlotte Despard and other previous Battersea MPs and politicians including John Archer, London’s first black mayor in 1913.

Hilda from Battersea in Perspective mural by Brian Barnes

Hilda from Battersea in Perspective mural by Brian Barnes

I went to Vardens Road to the site of 2-16 where the aircraft works were. It had later become a snooker hall which was demolished and replaced by these luxury town houses. Perhaps, someone will be knocking on one of these doors to see if they want a plaque of the feisty and indomitable Hilda Hewlett!

2-8 Vardens Road - the site of the Hewlett and Blondeau Omniaworks aircraft factory 1912-1914

2-8 Vardens Road – the site of the Hewlett and Blondeau Omnia Works aircraft factory 1912-1914



Stop the demolition of Water Pumping Station Battersea


This Victorian two story building is part of our Victorian, riverside heritage alongside its newer internationally known neighbour – The Battersea Power Station but equally deserves to preserved on this hugely significant regeneration site.  The people of Battersea and all those who care about our bricks and mortar industrial heritage and the psychological need we have to conserve it amongs the new developments.

batt power batt p with pig batt power 2

We need the small brick built Victorian Water Pumping Station Building as much as its colossal neighbour. The two side by side are a wonderful representation of the the 20th and 21st cnetruy brick built architecture.

Water Pumping Station Battersea riverside next to Battersea Power Staion

‘s Water Pumping Station Battersea riverside next to Battersea Power Staion

Water pumping station and its later neighbour Battersea Power Station

Water pumping station and its later neighbour Battersea Power Station

This petition has been set up Petitioning Councillor Mrs Sarah McDermott

We, the undersigned, ask Wandsworth Council to refuse listed building consent application 2014/1236 for the demolition of Battersea Water Pumping Station.

Please sign as this goes to the Council Planning Committeee Meeting on Tuesday

Petition | We, the undersigned, ask Wandsworth Council to

Battersea Water Pumping Station is the oldest surviving water pumping station in London.

It was built in 1840 for the Southwark Water Company and extended in 1856.  It housed a series of Cornish engines used for pumping water from the Thames.  At one time the pumping station housed the largest Cornish engine ever built, with a 112″ diameter cylinder.

The building was listed Grade II in 1994.

The pumping station commemorates the rich industrial heritage of the Nine Elms and North Battersea.    It has great potential to encouraging young people to think of science, technology and engineering as important skills worth acquiring.

Retaining and preserving the pumping station would attract visitors to the site and therefore increase footfall for the new facilities that will be open to the public.  It is in everybody’s interest that it is preserved.

We ask Wandsworth Council to initiate discussions with the owner/developer so that the development can be reconfigured to incorporate the pumping station

We further ask Wandsworth Council to convene negotiations between the owner/developer and the Battersea Power Station Company Ltd (a local registered charity) to allow the pumping station to be passed into the latter’s ownership for £1, to allow them to renovate the pumping station with Lottery funding.

Sean Creighton & Keith Garner

June 2014

batt power 2






The Battersea Power Station Community Group who have been custodians of our heritage against the giants of developers since according to Private Eye ( 7th March 1997) that forlorn symbol of Thatcherite free enterprise half-demolished by her friend John Broome before he went bust.   Power station groupBattersea Water Pumping Station

Here is an objection to the demolition written by Malcolm Tucker of the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society September 2010 Battersea Water Pumping Station Assessment GLIAS comments 30 Sept 2010.pdf    The developers with the title  Real Estate Opportunities tell it all!

The new lot of international vultures  The Battersea Power Station Development Company, the British-based consortium representing the new Malaysian owners of the iconic south London site, has lodged its detailed plans for the first phase of an £8bn redevelopment and it includes former Battersea Water Pumping Station.

Victorian society logoThe Victorian Society submitted their horror and disappointment at this proposed demolition.

Battersea Power Station plans threaten hidden industrial gem

The plans put forward by developer go against government planning advice, which says that a listed building should not be demolished unless efforts have been made to find a new use, or to transfer the building into charitable or community ownership. The Society is concerned that these efforts were never made and now a significant historical building could be lost.

it is hard to believe claims by the developer that the entire scheme for the power station and the regeneration of the surrounding site is rendered unviable if the pumping station is kept.

‘It is wonderful that Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s power station is to be given a new lease of life, but it mustn’t be used as an excuse to demolish another listed building. It may dwarf its neighbour in size but in terms of historical significance to London the pumping station can hold its own and must not be lost.’

It has suffered from the same neglect that has befallen the power station, and like the sleeping giant that dwarfs it, it has been proclaimed as unrestorable by the developers and therefore fair game to be knocked down to make way for gated communities and a retail hub.

The only reason to demolish it is that it allows the power station owners to maximise profits and for Wandsworth Council to show how it stands up for international development corporations against those who want to curtail their profits and futuristic visions. Ravi Govindia and the Council should be, as ever,  ashamed of themselves as they ignore their local residents in their endeavour to show how Tory and capitalistic they are as they wish to glory in the largest commercial redevelopment in Europe.

The last time I visited the Power Station was for a meeting with Ed Miilliband speaking. This photo shows me in red coat and the back of my head revealing my white roots which gives ammunition to my children’s complaint of me having a hole in my head. I should wear a red beret like Suzanne did.

Milliband at Battersea Power Station and showing the back of my head with white roots.

Milliband at Battersea Power Station and showing the back of my head with white roots.


Thomas Brogan Mayor of Battersea 1912/13

Posted in Thomas Brogan Irish Nationalist and Catholic Mayor Battersea 1912 by sheelanagigcomedienne on June 11, 2014

I have nominated Thomas Brogan, who was Mayor of Battersea in 1912/13, to be included in Battersea Arts Centre Great Hundred

Thomas Brogan Mayor of Battersea 1912/1913. Thomas Brogan was the first Irish nationalist and Catholic Mayor in London. He was mentor to John Archer. It is important to put these two Battersea Mayoral appointments in their context. I leave it to Sean Creighton, our indefatigueable chronicler and historian, to do that.Sean Creighton 2






from exclusion to political control. radical and working class


The record of the Progressive Alliance on the Vestry and Council between 1894 and 1909 and from 1912 onwards was impressive. A 48 hour working week and improved employee wage rates had been introduced early on. It opened Direct Labour Workshops. The Department built library extensions, the Nine Elms swimming and slipper baths, a public laundry, a sterilised milk depot, an electric light station, and the Latchmere housing estate.
The facilities of Latchmere Baths were expanded. It was the first London Borough to set up a health visiting service. Its Medical Officer of Health played a leading role in the maternity and child welfare movement. The appointment of an electoral registration officer had helped to ensure a high electoral roll among the working class. It sponsored Borough Concerts andLectures, and University Extension Lectures. The facilities built up by the Vestry/Council were regarded by the labour movement as positive achievements needing defending and improving.
Battersea earned the title of ‘The Municipal Mecca’.


John Archer was half Irish.   INFORMATION – PEOPLE – University of Liverpool He said of his mother : She belonged to one of the grandest races on the face of the earth. My mother was an Irishwoman.

This awareness of British colonisation was something that both men understood well, as outsiders. Battersea was a radical and progressive Borough at this time and can boast so many firsts in social and political development.

Councillor Thomas Brogan was an electrical engineer and he worked at Price’s candle factory. He was Chairman of the Workers Institute in Battersea. He was a lay member of St Vincent De Paul which was a cathoilic charitable organisation. He spoke eloquently at a convention of which he was a principle guest in Manchester. Frederic Ozanam and the Establishment of the Society of St

The Mayor of Battersea, who delivered an eloquent address, said that the brothers were fighting together for the great common cause for the common good of the common people. Europe was an armed camp. The Cross and the Crescent had again been in conflict, and thousands of the dead were lying unburied on the battlefields of the Near East. In the factory, in the workshop, in the office, the brothers of StVincent De Paul had to preach the great lesson of Christian charity .They had to spread the noble gospel that the great work of life was not to destroy life, but to preserve it. They had to show to the world that the spirit of Frederic Ozanam was alive in their hearts to-day, and that it was growing up a great, powerful, dominant force, which would eventually make England a better England, the Empire a better Empire, and the world a better world. But there was other work than this—work nearer to hand and, perhaps, more easy of immediate accomplishment. In the richest country of the world, with the wealth of the world pouring into her coffers—in a land as beautiful as a poet’s dream, with a soil as fruitful as God’s own love with a climate as sweet as a mother’s smile, and teeming with inexhaustible mineral wealth, there were thousands perishing of hunger and starvation.

Battersea Town hall








His election as Mayor was of significance to the Irish diaspora. This is from a Boston Newletter. Page 3 — The Sacred Heart Review 30 November 1912

In this connection it is interesting to read that an Irish Nationalist, Councillor Brogan of Battersea has been elected Mayor of the Borough of Battersea, one of the twenty-eight Boroughs that compose the County of London. This is the first time in the history of London, the Dublin Freeman says, that a militant Irish Nationalist has been elected to such a responsible and honorable position in the public life of the English metropolis. Councillor Brogan was born in the Irish quarters of York forty-six years ago, of Irish parentage. His father and mother were natives of Ballina, Co. Mayo. At an early age, Councillor Brogan was left fatherless, and for some years he experienced the trials that are inevitable when the chief bread-winner of a family is only a boy himself, but his sturdy spirit and natural ability were successful in bringing him to the front.

News From The Dioceses – from the Tablet Archive

BATTERSEA: ELECTION OF A CATHOLIC MAYOR.—As a result of the activity displayed during the recent Borough Council elections by the Catholics of Battersea in an attempt which happily proved successful, South London Catholics are now able to boast of a Mayor of their own in the person of Councillor Brogan, who has for a number of years taken an active interest in various Catholic movements, especially in educational matters.

Thomas Brogan was president of the United Irish League and a familiar and fluent speaker on Irish Home Rule.

On his election as Mayor the MORNING ADVERTISER November 11th 1912 wrote; “His selection for the office of Mayor is popular not only amongst his own party and the large Irish element in Battersea but also among his political opponents”
I am nominating Mayor Thomas Brogan because I believe that his election as Mayor in 1912 was significant because he was the first Irish Catholic Nationalist to be elected in Britain. I also feel his Mayoralty demonstrates the contribution of Irish people in the life of this Borough which I think has been overlooked especially from the earlier years when they constituted a considerable portion of the population.

Unfortunately, I have not found a photo of Thomas although his friend and mentee John Archer, Mayor of Battersea the following year and first Black Mayor elected in London, was a photographer.John Archer stamp

Central London Golf Centre Funeral Service Venue

Posted in Central London Golf Centre allows funerals, Search for non-religious funeral venues by sheelanagigcomedienne on June 9, 2014

I have written to Rosie at the Natural Death Centre The Natural Death Centre  asking if they would introduce a section on venues that would allow funeral services to be conducted on their premises.

Natural death centre



 Dear Rosie,

I am still on a mission to find venues that will allow non-religious funerals to take place. So, I am asking if you would consider having such a search facility so that people organising a non-religious funeral can find a venue near them to hold their funeral service before going to the crematorium or cemetery for committal.

I found the Central London Golf Centre, which is a few minutes away from Lambeth Crematorium, will accommodate actual funerals with the coffin. I suspect that it just needs a few venues to say they are prepared to do it which would help to normalise the idea. Also, there are some churches who would allow non-religious funerals as part of their commitment to being a community facility for all. This happened recently when a funeral I was conducting when the family booked the church hall as it was the nearest venue to the cemetery whose chapel is closed. When the vicar realised it was an actual funeral he immediately suggested that we use his church which was so much nicer and needed no further preparations.

 If you did decide to provide a search facility for non-religious funerals venues it could include an invitation to churches who would also allow them. This would be good PR for the churches as a community resource for everyone. I envisage a future when venues will be advertising their suitability as funeral venues as it makes good commercial sense. This would all be part of moving away from the Victorian black traditional funeral ethos.

Rosie responded:   “This is certainly an interesting and valuable concept”  She is running it by her trustees and IT person and will get back to me.

Central london Golf Centre Venue for Funerals

Central london Golf Centre Venue for Funerals

Central London Golf Centre



As funerals are usually held during weekdays there must be many venues that are available to host funeral services which are convenient to crematoria so that a small group of mourners can go on to the crematorium for the committal of the body whilst the others remain at the venue. Obviously, there is an issue of physical access in order to faciliate carrying the coffin into the premises but, other than that, there is no reason why we can’t break social resistance to funerals being part of everyday life, as it was in the past. Of course, if the number of mourners is small the funeral ceremony could be held in people’s homes, gardens and residential homes.

Devonport Guildhall

Devonport Guildhall

I have written to Venues4Funerals Venues 4 Funerals  . Despite the name, they do not list any venues other than crems and cemeteries for funerals and the venues listed  funeral receptions are the very expensive, high-end, wedding ones. It is the affordable option that interests me – the pubs, community centres and ordinary hotels.

The Good Funeral Guide posted Devonport Guildhall as a funeral venue.

There was a discussion The crying need for more funeral venues | The Good

Pembroke Lodge







Pembroke Lodge Belvedere

Pembroke Lodge Belvedere


I sent this email to Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park which was the home of renowned Humanist Bertrand Russell.

I have been a Humanist celebrant for many years and I am on a mission to find I am on a mission to find venues that will allow non-religious funerals to take place. So, I am asking if you would allow a funeral service, with the coffin, to take place before immediate family go to the crematorium for committal.

I have taken weddings, Baby Namings and funeral ‘afters’ at Pembroke Lodge but I am trying to find venues who would be accomodating and allow people to hold the actual funeral service at their premises. Pembroke Lodge would make such a lovely venue for many of us who have frequented Richmond Park and the tea rooms. Pembroke Lodge is, after all, the childhood home of one of our best known Humanists – Bertrand Russell. How fitting it would be that this much loved venue becomes someone’s funeral location.

and received this curt reply.

I am sorry but as we are such a busy venue with daily events and the public catering side we would not be able to assist you with this.

I do hope you find somewhere suitable.

Kind regards


So, that’s a NO TO FUNERALS from Pembroke Lodge.

PLEASE, PLEASE help me with my research on the search for venues local to you that would allow funerals to take place and are affordable and have fun as you go and I would be grateful for you to share any responses you get. I think golf clubs are a good bet and try any suitable local pub. After all they take our money when we are alive so why not one last time after we are dead. That is not too much to ask.

Meanwhile , I will keep you posted.

Michael Collins and Michael Mac Hale at St Luke’s Music Society SW12

Posted in St Luke's Concert with Michael Collins Clarinet and Michael McHale piano. by sheelanagigcomedienne on May 20, 2014

We thoroughly enjoyed a concert in the St. Luke’s Music Society series 2014 with Michael Collins clarinet accompanied by Michael McHale on piano.

St Luke's Church SW12

St Luke’s Church SW12

Michael Collins

Michael Collins

Michael Collins (Clarinet) and Michael McHale (Piano) perform a lovely programme of music to end the 2013/4 season of St Luke’s Music Society Concerts in the superb acoustic of St Luke’s Church in Thurleigh Road SW12.

Burgmuller Duo in E Flat Op 15

Brahms Sonata in F minor Op120 No 1

Debussy Premiere Rhapsodie for Clarinet and piano

Muczynski Time pieces

Horovitz Sonatina

Michael McHale

Michael McHale


The two Michaels.

The two Michaels.

It was a delightful programme with pieces from Bach to Horovitz.

We were introduced to the clarinet works of Burgmuller, Muczynski and Horovitz who was one of Michael Collins teachers.

Johann Burgmuller

Johann Burgmuller

Johann Friedrich Franz Burgmüller1806 – 1874) was aGerman piansit and composer.  He was born in Regensburg Germany.  Both his father August and brother Norbert were musicians. Friedrich studied with Ludwig Spohr. After years of studies with Spohr and Hauptmann, he moved to Paris in 1832, where he stayed until his death. There, he adopted Parisian music and developed his trademark, light style of playing. He wrote many pieces of  salon music for the piano and published several albums. Burgmüller also went on to compose piano etudes intended for children.

Robert Muczynski

Robert Muczynski

Robert Muczynski, an American composer, whose parentswere of Polish and Slovak descent, died in 2010. He is regarded as one of the most distinguished American neo-Classical composers of his generation but also he is described as the most frequently-performed composer whose music is never discussed.  His Flute Sonata (1961) is in the repertoire of most flautists, and his Moments (1992) for flute and piano is well on the way to matching its success; his Saxophone Sonata (1970) is in the repertoire of most saxophonists; his Time Pieces (1984) is in the repertoire of most clarinetists; and his copious music for piano solo is heard on recitals .


Joseph Horovitz was born in Vienna in 1926 and emigrated to England in 1938. He studied music at New College, Oxford, with Gordon Jacob at the Royal College of Music where he won the Farrar Prize, and for a further year with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. The Festival of Britain in 1951 brought him to London as conductor of ballet and concerts at the Festival Amphitheatre. He then held positions as conductor to the Ballet Russes, associate director of the Intimate Opera Company, on the music staff at Glyndebourne, and as guest composer at the Tanglewood Festival, USA.

Joseph Horovitz

Joseph Horovitz


His compositions number sixteen ballets, nine concertos, two one-act operas, chamber music, works for brass band, television and radio, and a number of choral cantatas – most famously Captain Noah and His Floating Zoo. Since 1961 he has taught at the Royal College of Music, where he is now a Fellow. He has also won two Ivor Novello Awards, and in 1996 he was awarded the Gold Order of Merit of the City of Vienna. The Worshipful Company of Musicians awarded him the Cobbett Medal in 2008 for services to chamber music.

His Sonatina is a light, lyrical work.




There was a conversation with Michael McHale before the concert and they were signing their CDs afterwards at the back of the church.

Michael collins cd cover

Founded in 2003, St Luke’s Music Society is a local organisation that promotes a concert series each year in St Luke’s Church, South Battersea. It has a growing reputation for attracting and promoting a wide range of performers, from local musical organisations to internationally recognised artists. Performers in recent series have included Cleo Lane, the late Humphrey Littleton, John Williams, The Sixteen, Jacqui Dankworth, Nicola Benedetti and Sir Willard White.

We are members and attend as many concerts as we can and it includes the three Festival Chorus concerts that Dave sings with and has been doing now for over 25 years after he was roped into it by Barbara wen she first sang with them before she joined the London Symphony Chorus. in the nineties.

Despite, being in a church with pious hanging plaques urging humility,  godliness etc and a pulpit inscribed with WE PREACH CHRIST CRUCIFIED it is a great local facility attracting some big names because of Anthony Lewis-Crosby’s connections with the Barbican and Guildhall.

The next Festival chorus gig is a semi-staged concert performance of the Pirates of Penzance on Saturday 5th July 7.30.

The Festival Chorus | A large, no-auditions amateur chorus

St Luke’s Music Society is an excellent local addition to the cultural life of Batterea. St Luke’s Music Society – Concert series in South London and  deserves our support.

I have just booked for another example of the rich cultural amenities in Battersea by booking for the matinee tomorrow of an Irish play at the theatre above the Latchmere pub which has just been refurbished. Theatre503 | Book online or call the box office 020 7978 7040

The Latchmere

The Latchmere

A Handful of Stars

by Billy Roche

Starring Keith Duffy

30 April- 24 May,



We really are so lucky having so much on our doorstep with the Southbank a few minutes away by train.

Thursday MAY 22nd is election day.  VOTE LABOUR.

4 Humanist Funerals with live music

Posted in 4 Humanist Funerals with live music by sheelanagigcomedienne on May 20, 2014

I have conducted four funerals recently which had live music.

The first one for Michael at West Norwood Crematorium had some of his old band members playing, one of whom recognised me as I had taken his children’s Naming ceremonies. They played TANGERINE by Victor Schertzinger and Johnny Mercer.  We entered to Stephen Higgins on piano playing a selection of Chopin  pieces. Suzanne Holmes mezzo-soprano sang DITE, OIME  by Vivaldi from La Fida Ninfa. The service included a recording of Michael singing Beautiful Lady from his youthful band FLIX on Hurricane Records 1980 poignant and haunting. We were played out by Stephen to a piano cocktail medley including Summertime, Blue Moon, Isn’t this a lovely day, Lily of Laguna

West Norwood Crematorium and Cemetery entrance

West Norwood Crematorium and Cemetery entrance

Opened in 1837, West Norwood Cemetery contains 64 listed monuments of outstanding architecture. Burials include Mrs Beaton (of cookery book fame), Sir Henry Doulton (pottery), and Sir Henry Tate (English sugar merchant, art patron and public benefactor).

The second funeral at Lambeth Crematorium was for Martin who had met his partner Richard at the proms many years ago. Gudny Jonasdottir played movements from Bach’s 3rd Cello Suite at the crematorium and afterwards in the Nash Conservartory, Kew Gardens we were treated to a short harpsichord recital played by Christopher Bucknall whilst been entertained by the squirrels chasing each other up the trees. It was sooo charming.

Nash Conservarory, Kew Gardens

Nash Conservatory, Kew Gardens

Nas Conservaory Kew Gardens

Nash Conservatory Kew Gardens


The third funeral was for Julie, who was 54. She lived on our street some 25 years ago when I knew her because she was so friendly and her husband Dave who did some plumbing work for us.  I had also conducted the funeral for  Dave’s sister Susan a few years ago.  She was a delighful and ebullient Lancashire lass. Her friend Caroline Dennis who is a pianist, singer and comedienne whom Julie met in the laundrette on a cruise, treated us to I am a woman W O M A N. Later at the Central London Golf Centre she sang Fever giving us impressions of it as the Queen, Margaret Thatcher, Victoria Beckham, Ann Widdicombe and Janet Street Porter. She certainly is versatile and ready to improvise even when we couldn’t locate a CD player.

Caroline Dennis

Caroline Dennis, musician, singer actress, comedienne and cruise entertainer.

Caroline Dennis, musician, singer actress, comedienne and cruise entertainer.


She is the daughter of Bobby Dennis, an old-time comedian, who gigged with Dave Allen in the sixties in Australia.

Bobby Dennis comedian

Bobby Dennis comedian

Bobby Dennis – YouTube

The Central London Golf Centre Burntwood Lane SW17 said that they would be prepared to have a funeral service in their centre which is only minutes away from Lambeth Crematorium.  At last, I have found a local venue willing to allow a funeral service to take place. We have all heard how golfers themselves often say they would be happiest to die playing golf! I am on a mission to find premises that will allow our funerals to take place in the community rather than at the crematorium which is specifically designed only for funerals. Maybe it is only a question of time before they are used for other celebrations/events in the evenings and at weekends and n0n-religious funerals will be taking place in pubs, homes, parks, gardens and community venues.

Central London Golf Centre

Central London Golf Centre


The fourth funeral was for Buddy Bounds who was a jazz trumpeter. He was the father of Karen. I had conducted the funeral for her step-father Michael and her wedding ceremony when she and Sue got married. I briefly met Phil who preferred to be called Buddy (as in Buddy Holly) at their wedding which was held  in the delightful Estorick Gallery in Islington.

Buddy had loved things American. He played with Roy Orbison and was his musical director for a time.  The funeral was in Hampstead cemetery where his mother Norma was buried but the service was booked for a nearby church hall St. Luke’s. At the last minute the vicar  suggested that we use the church. He had thought the booking was for funeral afters and so he felt it right when he heard it was for the actual funeral ceremony.  It is an evangelical church so there was already musical equipment  there including a piano on which was placed a photograph of Buddy from the sixties.

Hampstead Cemetery

Hampstead Cemetery

St Luke's Church

Kevin the trumpeter played Send in the clowns  during the service and the Last Post  at the graveside. He played again when we retired to th snug at one of Buddy’s pubs  the Spread Eagle on Parkway, Camden Town.

spread eagle pub       spread eagle sign

We had one or two ‘Oh bits from obits’ when Buddy’s sister Mary told us that she remembered coming home from school to find Ronnie Scott playing on their piano while her Mum made him tea and sandwiches.  The second one was when Buddy took to fishing after he had to give up the trumpet and used to go to Clapham in the Yorkshire Dales,with his mate Roy who used to be married to Anne Davis. She had been Alan Bennett’s cleaner and lover and he had bought her the cottage which she had converted in to a quirky tearoom – Cafe Anne-  and this is where Buddy and Roy stayed. Anne died in 2009 and Roy later. There was a lovely photo of Buddy with Anne and Roy’s three sons.

These funerals were all rather different, but equally engrossing, as they reflected the people that we were honouring. I still think I am very fortunate to be a humanist celebrant.

Nunhead Cemetery Open Day 2014

Posted in Dying Matters Awareness week, South East London Humanist Group by sheelanagigcomedienne on May 18, 2014

The South East London Humanist Group had a stall at Nunhead Cemetery Open Day yesterday which also coincided with Dying Matters Awareness Week. South East London Humanist Group

Nunhead Cemetery Porch to burnt out chapel.

Nunhead Cemetery Porch to burnt out chapel.

The cemetery is the setting for the Victorian poet Charlotte Mew’s  exploration of death, insanity and social alienation In Nunhead Cemetery and is the setting for Maurice Riordan‘s final poem, The January Birds in The Holy a d, his 2007 collection. The Woman Between the Worlds, a 1994 science fiction novel by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre set in Victorian England, depicts the burial at Nunhead Cemetery in 1898 (in a closed coffin) of a female extraterrestrial. The novel avoids citing a precise location for this grave, in case some reader believes that alien remains can be retrieved from the site.

The cemetery also featured in Episode 2 of the 2008 BBC series Spooks, although it was credited as Highgate Cemetery.


The Friends of Nunhead Cemetery organise the annual Open Day. They have produced a few fascinating publications.

Nunhead Symbols – Friends of Nunhead Cemetery

Nunhead Cemetery

Nunhead Cemetery

Great Headstone NunheadNunhead goth


I did take a funeral here many years ago of a bus man. The ceremony was at Conway Hall but the burial was at Nunhead and he requested that his friends organise a routemaster bus to transport his friends.

Nunhead funeral

Nunhead in snow

Nunhead in snow







On the annual Open Days local groups are invited to set up their stalls. We had secondhand books,  50P for paperbacks and £1 for hardbacks alongside all our leaflets. Colin erected the gazebo. There was a non-stop stream of people as books are always a great pull. One young man was keen to take our Namings leaflet for his friends as they were due to have their first baby and he seemed quite confident that he would be asked to be an oddfather.

Myself, Denis and Hester in front of our BHA stall at Nunhead Cemetery Open day

Myself, Denis and Hester in front of our BHA stall at Nunhead Cemetery Open day











Here are our new leaflets.

BHA leaflets on our ceremonies

BHA leaflets on our ceremonies

Dying m Leaflet_1_Cover-2Dying Matters Leaflet_3_Cover_ImageDying m Leaflet10WebDying matters  5







A stall opposite ours was selling these beautiful chinese watercolours that were painted by members of a mental health group. I chose these three pieces  which they were selling framed for £5 pounds!!  They were a lovely bunch of people.

Painting by mental health group members Southwark.

Painting by mental health group members Southwark.


















It was very sunny when I was there from 11.00 to 12.30 as I had to go on to a family visit for a Naming Ceremony in Clockhouse,  Beckenham. Joanna and Jo, the parents, and  Ellington and Valentine were lovely and Ellington (parents jazz fans) was enthusiastic about singing Old MacDonald for the ceremony in June.

I don’t know the origin of the name Nunhead. The head of the nuns is called an abbess.

A Nun

A Nun

A head nun=abbess

A head nun=abbess




DO VISIT NUNHEAD CEMETERY. It is definitely one of London’s hidden treasures. It is near Nunhead station.


Norwegian fjords cruise on the Marco Polo.

Posted in Fjords cruise on Marco Polo and meeting with Dara O'Briain in Bergen. by sheelanagigcomedienne on May 2, 2014

We had a relaxing six night fjords cruise on the Marco Polo where we had a deluxe cabin which means it had big windows and room for a settee and a chair. Food was great, entertainment jolly. Bobby Dazzler the comedian. We enjoyed the violin and piano Carmen Duo- Tatiana and Varvara –  most enjoyable as they played in the Captain’s Club. We shared a table for eight at dinner in the Waldorf restaurant and they were a an interesting bunch as we had few laughs with them.

Marco Polo          Captains club lounge Marco PoloCabin 804 De Luxe

Me at the front of the shipsailing up the Naerofjord the narrowest fjord in Europe

Me at the front of the shipsailing up the Naerofjord the narrowest fjord in Europe











We stopped at Eidfjord, Flam and Bergen.

Sculpted face in Eidfjord

In Eidfjord we took a delighful two hour walk in brilliant sunshine up the hill, through the woods- a Norwegian wood – down to the lake and back along the river. Dave took a side trip up to the waterfall.

Campsite Eidfjord

Campsite Eidfjord

Bus stop

Bus stop










Red wood sculpture

We passed a 12th century church with a graveyard.gable of old church in Eidfjord  Norwegian wood


There was a gravestone with a Humanist symbol which I was delighted to see amongst all those with the christian logo of the cross – an instrument of torture.


Humanist gravestone in Eidfjord churchyard

Humanist gravestone in Eidfjord churchyard

Church gable

I liked this red painted wood art piece.

Red wood sculpture








At Flam we took the train to Myrdal. The Flam railway has ten stations, twenty tunnels and one bridge. The maximum gradient is 5.5 percent (1:18), making it the steepest standard gauge railway in Europe. Because of its steep gradient and picturesque nature, the Flåm Line is now almost exclusively a tourist service and has become the third-most visited tourist attraction in Norway.

  snow scene









House with a bike ner Myrdal station

Flam carriageFlam railway carriage interior







Our last stop was Bergen. We did the ‘must-do’ funicular trip from the Floibanen station.

Floibanen funucular station

Floibanen funicular station

View from above

View from above




Bergen manhole cover

Bergen manhole cover















and strolled around Bryggen.

Bryggen Bergen           Houses Bergen







clapperboard houses

Hotel window

Hotel window











We ambled 0nto the octagon-shaped lake Lille Lungegardsvann. There is a statue of an unhappy boy and a voluptuous woman.unhappy boyVoluptuous women

Lille lake bergen







Art Deco theatre

Art Deco theatre

The theatre Den Nationale Scene has a little garden in front and this stern statue of Ibsen.



Theatre faces











We encountered this statue of a soldier boy.

Boy soldier

Boy soldier


We went to see the Grieghallen. I noticed one event taken place there was a Humanist Confirmation Ceremony.

Humanist Conformation in Grieghallen

Humanist Conformation in Grieghallen


I took the photo of the little Grieg statue.GriegAs I turned around this recognisable person came into view and so as I had my camera in my hand I took his photo.

Dara giving an interview

Dara giving an interview

We got talking and the chap interviewing him showed me his smooth shave which he got done when he was in Galway the previous day!

As we chatted the cameraman kept filming. I told them that when I did my show in Galway in Taylor’s bar that a Norwegian film crew came along and filmed my show as they were in Ireland researching the Sheela-na-Gig figures. This review is from The Connaught Tribune when I did my show in Galway a year before I took it to the Edinburgh Festival in 1996. I don’t know if they ever showed it in Norway.

A Norwegian film crew, rain drumming off the marquee and rivulets running underfoot set the bizarre scene for Jeanne Egan’s opening performance of “Sheela-na-Gig’ at Taylors Bar.

Perhaps none other than a Scandanavian TV crew could dwell upon the incongruities of two millenia of western development as brought out here . They just happended to be exploring the Sheela-na-Gig phenomenon after discovering some figures in their home country.

P.S. Wearing ties not recommended.

Sadly Taylor’s bar is no more as that part of Galway has become sleaze street with dives like this and a casino.

Le Paradis Club formerlyTaylor's Bar Galway

Le Paradis Club formerlyTaylor’s Bar Galway

I had a bit of craic with Dara and told him about being compared to Dave Allen and then conducting his funeral in 2007. Of course, I knew that Dara was a humanist supporter and is a friend of our President Jim Al Khalili with whom he has done some television work. It was a serendipitous  encounter with Dara who was on tour in Scandinavia.

IMELDA- Ireland making England the Legal Destination for Abortion and President Higgins visit.

Posted in Ireland and abortion and President Higgins visit. by sheelanagigcomedienne on April 10, 2014


The indomitable Ann Rossiter, who has been supporting Irish women forced to come to England for an abortion, is still campaigning against the shameful treatment of Irish women. She wrote  Ireland’s Hidden Diaspora: The Abortion Trail 

Ann Rossiter Abortion Story – YouTube

Ann and her book


She is now a member of IMELDA.Speaking of Imelda

Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. is a direct action feminist performance group that seeks to challenge the ongoing problem of Ireland Making England the Legal Destination for Abortion. We operate against the shaming and silencing of women who have had abortions in the Irish region and more widely.

IMELDA was the secret code name for abortion used by the Irish Women’s Abortion Support Group, a group of activists based in London who provided support to women travelling from Ireland to England for abortions between 1980 and 2000. This code name enabled Irish women travelling to England for abortions to keep their plans secret so as to avoid stigma, and up until 1992 when the right to travel for abortion was implemented, criminalization. Up to six thousand women travel from the Irish region continually travel to the UK each year to access abortion services. Apart from the considerable expense and stress of having to travel abroad for a medical procedure, these women are denied follow-up after-care. Furthermore, in 2013 the Irish Republic implemented a 14-year prison sentence for women who have abortions in Ireland illegally. This has dire consequences for women who take pro-abortive medication because they cannot afford to travel or are not permitted to leave the country. We want women in the Irish region, and more widely, to have control over their own bodies and medical services to support their choices. In reclaiming the name IMELDA we wish to act in solidarity with women’s groups who have sought to counteract the inhumanity of state legislation in both Northern and Southern Ireland, while operating against the silencing and shaming of women who have abortions.
Imelda at Irish centre

Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A is based in London. We do not represent anyone but ourselves. We exist in solidarity with pro-choice groups in Ireland and throughout the world who fight draconian patriarchal regimes. We maintain that reproductive choice is a human right and that all women should have access to safe and legal abortion services in both the North and South of Ireland. We campaign for changes in Irish law so that women, north and south, may have the choice to have legal safe abortions and follow up care.

Contact us:


They performed outside the Irish Embassy when Michael D Higgins – our President-  visited in April. ( I knew him as a student when we both served on the Literary and Debating Society committee and hasn’t he done well.) Michael D acknowledged them, smiled and waved. Sabina was modelling as many colourful outfits created by Irish designers as was possible. She is tall and elegant compared to Michael D but he is the great orator and statesman.   queen and michael dMichael D and Charles

Michael d and Sabina  Bridge

Michael D and Sabina

They have already been mentioned in the Irish Times rt at:  and you can see IMELDA on You Tube     On Tuesday morning at the beginning of the President of the Irish Republic’s state visit celebrating improved relations between Ireland and Britain, the pro-choice performance group, Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A., made a striking presence outside the Irish embassy in London. Dressed in red, singing ‘Sail Away’ and waving a shimmering red cloth representing the Irish Sea, Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. highlighted a much less-publicized facet of Irish-British relations: the 12 women a day who are forced to travel to England for an abortion because this choice is denied to them in Ireland.

In 2013, the Republic of Ireland introduced a 14-year prison sentence for women who have abortions in Ireland illegally. The new 14-year prison sentence has especially dire consequences for women who take pro-abortive medication because they cannot afford to travel or are not permitted to leave Ireland to travel. In this morning’s performance, some women were banished under the ‘sea’, symbolizing the powerful hypocrisy of Ireland’s anti-choice laws and their cruel disregard and neglect of women’s reproductive health, including the daily banishment of 12 women across the Irish Sea.

Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. members respect President Higgins’ achievements to date. However, its members intervened at the Irish Embassy this morning since any discussion and celebration of Irish-British relations should have to engage with the ongoing cruel hypocrisy of I.M.E.L.DA. – Ireland Making England the Legal Destination for Abortion. Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. members were pleased that President Higgins acknowledged their presence by smiling and waving when departing the Irish Embassy for Windsor.

More photos here

Ann and Marian Larragy  produce the London Irish Feminist Network Newsletter after the demise of the London Irish Women’s Centre. Marian is also part of IMELDA. They jointly wrote Beyond the Pale: Ireland and the British Women’s Movement

Ann MarianThe photo with Marian in the centre was taken at a talk at the Feminst Library. Womens Studies Without Walls and London Irish Womens Network event                 ‘Making and Breaking: Images of Irish Women’

I attended another talk there with Mary Lodato who is a very determined as she strives to towards a PhD although she was illiterate until her mid thirties. She is feisty and funny. Mary Lodato

London Irish Women’s Network hosts an afternoon focussed on the Magdalene Laundries

The keynote speaker is Mary Lodato, who is writing a PhD on her personal journey of survival, redress and recovery, charting the childhood experience of institutional abuse in an Industrial School which had a Magdalene Laundry attached to it. Some of Mary’s artwork will be on display and Survivor poet, Emer O’Keefe, will read poetry.

Some of us have been here for decades but still striving to have our place in both Irish and British history recognised.

Keats House visit and Eliza Chester.

Posted in Keats House and Eliza Chester by sheelanagigcomedienne on April 3, 2014

I went to Keats House in Hampstead after a family visit for a funeral for Midge who lived in Elephant and Castle. After buying some knickers from the market and yet another beret- grey- I decided to go on the northern line to Hampstead to visit Keats House. It was such a lovely sunny day and I used my rt Fund card for free entry. I was a delighful walk in spring leafy Hamspead Streets to get to the house he lived in before he left for Italy when he got ill an in which he met Fanny Brawne. The house is next to the Branch Library which is now run by volunteers – council cuts. We were guided by a chirpy chap. The museum is run by the City of London as is the nearby Hampstead Heath and not the Borough of Camden. It is a delightful, charming museum. I bought a small book of his poems from the wee gift shop, as you do.


Keats House – the City of London Corporation


Keats Housekeats

The Romantic poet John Keats lived in this house and was inspired to write his most memorable poetry here. 

The grade 1 listed building is open to the public as a museum and literary centre, where Keats’s memory lives on through events, creative activities and special displays.

Visitors can explore Keats’s study, the bedroom where his consumption was first diagnosed, and the garden which he shared with the love of his life, Fanny Brawne, and in which he composed his famous ‘Ode to a Nightingale’.

​John Keats was born in 1795 and began to write poetry from the age of 18. Encouraged by his school friend, Charles Cowden Clarke, Keats abandoned his profession as an apothecary surgeon to concentrate on poetry full time. Heavily influenced by Shakespeare and Milton, Keats became one of the principal poets of the English Romantic movement along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley. During his lifetime, Keats was attacked by the critics and branded as a ‘cockney poet’, but his posthumous influence has been significant.

Keats wrote some of his best poems at Wentworth Place and it was here that he met and fell in love with ‘the girl next door’, Fanny Brawne. The engagement ring , which had belonged to his mother, is on dispaly which he gave to Fanny. Fannys ring

The house was built during 1814–1815 and was probably completed between November 1815 and February 1816. The house was one of the first to be built in the area known as the Lower Heath Quarter.

This Keats own parlour where he did his writing.

“If Poetry comes not as naturally as Leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.”

– John Keats

keats parlour

By October 1816, Charles Wentworth Dilke and his friend Charles Brown had moved in. Other members of the Dilke family occupied two other adjacent houses. John Keats began visiting the house in 1817 after he had been introduced to Dilke by John Hamilton Reynolds, who was part of Leigh Hunt‘s circle of friends. In December 1818, after Keats’s brother Tom died of tuberculosis, Brown invited Keats to “keep house” with him. Keats paid £5 per month, equivalent to about £250 in 2008 prices, and half the liquor bill.

Keats interior

Dilke and his family left on 3 April 1819 and let the house, probably furnished, to Mrs Brawne, a widow, and her family, who had briefly occupied Brown’s half of the house when Keats and Brown were on their walking tour of Scotland.

He was the oldest of Thomas and Frances Keats’ four children.

Keats lost his parents at an early age. He was eight years old when his father, a livery stable-keeper, was killed after being trampled by a horse.

His father’s death had a profound effect on the young boy’s life. In a more abstract sense, it shaped Keats’ understanding for the human condition, both its suffering and its loss. This tragedy and others helped ground Keats’ later poetry—one that found its beauty and grandeur from the human experience.


Brown transferred his part of Wentworth Place to Dilke’s father on 18 June 1822 and left for Italy in the same year.

After Keats’s death, his sister Fanny became friends with Fanny Brawne. Fanny Keats and her husband Valentin Llanos occupied what had been Brown’s half of the house from 1828 until 1831. Mrs Brawne died in December 1829 after an accident. By March 1830, the Brawnes had left the house.

Keats other room

Brown’s parlour containg the grandfather clock which was returned here by his descendants from New Zealand and seemed to have acquired a new body but is still working.

He was the oldest of Thomas and Frances Keats’ four children.

Keats lost his parents at an early age. He was eight years old when his father, a livery stable-keeper, was killed after being trampled by a horse.

His father’s death had a profound effect on the young boy’s life. In a more abstract sense, it shaped Keats’ understanding for the human condition, both its suffering and its loss. This tragedy and others helped ground Keats’ later poetry—one that found its beauty and grandeur from the human experience.

A Thing of Beauty (Endymion)

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its lovliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkn’d ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
‘Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.

John Keats Biography – Facts, Birthday, Life Story –      Keats devoted his short life to the perfection of poetry marked by vivid imagery, great sensuous appeal and an attempt to express a philosophy through classical legend. In 1818 he went on a walking tour in the Lake District. His exposure and overexertion on that trip brought on the first symptoms of the tuberculosis, which ended his life.

He was the oldest of Thomas and Frances Keats’ four children. He lost his parents at an early age. He was eight years old when his father, a livery stable-keeper, was killed after being trampled by a horse.

His father’s death had a profound effect on the young boy’s life. In a more abstract sense, it shaped Keats’ understanding for the human condition, both its suffering and its loss. This tragedy and others helped ground Keats’ later poetry—one that found its beauty and grandeur from the human experience.

Ode to a Nightingale

Ode on a Grecian Urn

  • Ode to Fancy
  • Ode – (Bards of Passion and of Mirth)
  • Lines on the Mermaid Tavern
  • Robin Hood – To a Friend
  • Ode to Apollo

keats poems

  • I stood tiptoe upon a little hill
  • Specimen of an induction to a poem
  • Calidore – a fragment
  • To Some Ladies
  • On Receiving a Curious Shell, and a Copy of Verses from the Same Ladies
  • To – Georgiana Augusta Wylie, afterwards Mrs. George Keats
  • To Hope
  • Imitation of Spenser
  • Three Sonnets on Woman
  • Sleep and Poetry
  • On Death
  • Women, Wine, and Snuff
  • Fill For Me a Brimming Bowl
  • Isabella or The Pot of Basil
  • To a Young Lady who Sent Me a Laurel Crown
  • On Receiving a Laurel Crown from Leigh Hunt
  • To the Ladies who Saw me Crown’d
  • Hymn to Apollo
  • The Eve of St. Agnes
  • To – [Had I a man’s fair form, then might my sighs]
  • Written on the Day that Mr. Leigh Hunt left Prison
  • How many bards gild the lapses of time!
  • To a Friend Who Sent Me Some Roses
  • To G. A. W. [Georgiana Augusta Wylie]
  • O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell
  • To My Brothers
  • Keen, fitful gusts are whisp’ring here and there
  • To one who has been long in city pent
  • On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer
  • On Leaving Some Friends at an Early Hour
  • Addressed to Haydon
  • On the Grasshopper and Cricket
  • To Koscuisko
  • Happy is England! I could be content
  • Sonnet on Peace
  • Sonnet to Byron
  • Sonnet to Chatterton
  • Sonnet to Spenser

    Give my Love to Fanny and tell her, if I were well there is enough in this Port of Naples to fill a quire of PaperI do not feel in the world…I dare not fix my Mind upon Fanny, I have not dared think of her. The only comfort I have had that way has been in thinking for hours together of having the knife she gave me put in the silver-case-the hair in a locket – and the Pocket Book in a gold net – Show her this. I dare say no more – Yet if you must not believe I am so ill as this Letter may look, for if ever there was a person born without the faculty of hoping I am he.

    Keats wrote this in his letter to Mrs brawne, Fanny’s mother,  from Italy.

Keats extensionThis lovely room was added by in 1838 when it was bought by the actress Eliza Jane Chester.

eliza jane chesterEliza removed the staircase in the Keats/Brown side of the house and knocked through the walls to create a single house. She also added the drawing room at the eastern end of the house (the Chester Room). Miss Chester was famous during the 1820s and early 1830s for playing the lead roles in comedies and especially for her appearances as Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing and Lady Teazle in The School for Scandal. She was known for her beauty and elegance rather than her acting ability or her voice. She had a wealthy and influential patron, and later became a favourite of King George IV.eliza chester bookHer portrait by John Jackson 1920 was used on this book by Margaret Telfer. Forget Me Not tells the tales of five women from the Chester, Robins and Devenish families set in both England and Western Australia.


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