Monthly Archives: December 2014

In Memoriam

Today’s post is interesting because it is a poem written in memory of someone you would probably describe as ‘ordinary’ in the sense that he doesn’t feature as a well-known historical name in Teignmouth’s past.

He is the Reverend Anson Cartwright who lived at Brimley House, Teignmouth, until his death in 1903. No book has been written about him, yet if you check out his page at the end of the poem you’ll see that he seems to have been quite a pillar of Teignmouth society at the end of the 19th century.  He contributed through a variety of public service roles on the Council, politically and for charitable concerns (e.g. the Newton Board of Guardians).

If you remember, the Cartwright name as an eminent family in Teignmouth first appeared in Isaac Gompertz’s 1825 poem ‘Devon’.

Anyway, Thomas Aggett felt that the passing of Reverend Cartwright should be remembered in his collection of Vagabond Verses.

‘In Memoriam’ Reverend Cartwright
(Thomas Aggett)

O Mother Earth! But thou hast claimed
A noble and a worthy son,
Whose soul to goodness ever aimed
And evil practices did shun.

He came to counsel and to teach,
He truly loved his fellow men,
His heart was warm with love for each,
His mission was successful then.

His kindly face, his genial smile,
Were welcomed both by rich and poor,
And words of wisdom all the while
There came from a well-garnered store.

A kindly voice to sympathise;
His actions all were good and just,
Now we behold, with moistened eyes,
All that remains laid in the dust.

O Mother Earth! But thou hast claimed
A brother, and a noble one,
To Heaven, the goal for which he aimed,
His soul went with the rising sun.

Want to know more?  Check out:

Reverend Anson W H Cartwright …..

The Legend of Teignmouth

Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Today’s poem is a curious post. It is called ‘The Legend of Teignmouth’ and appears to be about Sir Francis Drake (though only mentioned as ‘Sir Francis’). Unless anyone knows any different I think the poet, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, might have got it wrong!

She was an early 19th century poet living in London. I suspect she hadn’t been to the West Country but moved in circles where Teignmouth would have been known and spoken about. So maybe she inadvertently associated Drake with Teignmouth rather than Tavistock where he was born. Who knows? Anyway it is called what is called and therefore, mistaken or not, it deserves a place in this collection.

(Incidentally, Thomas Aggett referred to his poem ‘Parson and the Clerk’ as ‘A legend of Teignmouth’ and, as we saw in the last post, Elias Parish Alvars composed a piece of music also entitled ‘Legend of Teignmouth’).

A Legend of Teignmouth
(Letitia Elizabeth Landon)

A story of the olden time, when hearts
Wore truer faith than now—a carved stone
Is in a little ancient church which stands
‘Mid yonder trees, ’tis now almost defaced;
But careful eye may trace the mould’ring lines,
And kind tradition has preserved the tale;
I tell it nearly in the very words
Which are the common legend.

Some few brief hours, my gallant bark,
And we shall see the shore;
My native, and my beautiful,
That I will leave no more.

And gallantly the white sails swept
On, on before the wind;
The prow dash’d through the foam and left
A sparkling line behind.

The sun look’d out through the blue sky,
A gladsome summer sun;
The white cliffs like his mirrors show
Their native land is won.

And gladly from the tall ship’s side,
Sir Francis hail’d the land,
And gladly in his swiftest boat,
Row’d onward to the strand.

“I see my father’s castle walls
Look down upon the sea;
The red wine will flow there to-night,
And all for love of me.

“I left a gentle maiden there:
For all the tales they say
Of woman’s wrong and faithlessness
To him who is away;

“I’ll wager on her lily hand,
Where’s still a golden ring;
But, lady, ’tis a plainer one
That o’er the seas I bring.”

His bugle sound the turret swept
They meet him in the hall;
But ‘mid dear faces where is hers,
The dearest of them all?

Ah! every brow is dark and sad,
And every voice is low;
His bosom beats not as it beat
A little while ago.

They lead him to a darken’d room.
A heavy pall they raise;
A face looks forth as beautiful
As in its living days.

A ring is yet upon the hand,
Sir Francis, worn for thee.
Alas! that such a clay-cold hand,
Should true love’s welcome be!

He kiss’d that pale and lovely mouth,
He laid her in the grave;
And then again Sir Francis sail’d
Far o’er the ocean wave.

To east and west, to north and south,
That mariner was known;
A wanderer bound to many a shore,
But never to his own.

At length the time appointed came,
He knew that it was come;
With pallid brow and wasted frame,
That mariner sought home.

The worn-out vessel reach’d the shore,
The weary sails sank down;
The seamen clear’d her of the spoils
From many an Indian town.

And then Sir Francis fired the ship;
Yet tears were in his eyes,
When the last blaze of those old planks
Died in the midnight skies.

Next morning, ’twas a Sabbath morn
They sought that church, to pray;
And cold beside his maiden’s tomb
The brave Sir Francis lay.

O, Death! the pitying that restored
The lover to his bride;
Once more the marble was unclosed,
They laid him at her side.

And still the evening sunshine sheds
Its beauty o’er that tomb;
Like heaven’s own hope, to mitigate
Earth’s too unkindly doom.

Want to know more?  Check out:

Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Elias Parish Alvars

Elias Parish Alvars

Elias Parish Alvars

Boxing Day and the occasion of the annual “Walk in the sea” to raise money for the RNLI – remembered last year through the post “We Honour Them“.

Today’s post though continues the theme of people and, in particular, the links with music.  There have been a few posts already about folk songs, shanties, poems in music but today is about the harp.

I found the following poem in one of the pamphlets of the Teignmouth Heritage Centre.

Elias Parish Alvars was a gifted harpist, born in Teignmouth in 1808. To pursue his musical career he moved to Austria. Hector Berlioz described him as “prodigious” and “the Lizst of the harp”. Follow the link after the poem for more about his life.

He died young, at the age of 41, and this poem was written on his death by an old and sincere friend, noted in the pamphlet as “Warwick”.

Parish Alvars

O’er Mendelssohn the cypress tree
Was scarcely planted near
Ere weeping willows bend, we see,
To shadow Alvars’ bier

Spirits of air, the host on high
Will hail ye with delight.
Genius like yours can never die,
Twin spirits now of light.

Bards of Ossian, tune your lay
With silver harps so sweet.
To charm the bard of our day
His kindred souls to meet.

He lives again, whose works remain,
Displaying music’s art:
And he will in that region reign
The memory of the heart.

England may proudly boast his birth,
Till into manhood grown;
The Germans knowing well his worth,
had claimed him as their own.

Want to know more? Check out:

Elias Parish Alvars …..

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Brunel by the chains of the Great Eastern

Brunel by the chains of the Great Eastern

Back to the railway today.  There have already been a couple of posts on this theme – ‘All Aboard The Engine‘ and ‘The Great Western Railway Record Run‘.

Today is another song, a round in four parts written by David Haines – one of the repertoire of the South Devon Singers. This is in celebration of the renowned engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. His life is littered with achievements but he is remembered locally of course for the construction of the railway between Exeter and Newton Abbot.

Ahead of his time he designed this originally as an “atmospheric railway”, essentially powered by vacuum, but like many visionary ideas this was thwarted by the inability of technology to keep up. Sadly the atmospheric railway failed but the legacy was the current stretch of track often described as one of the ‘great railway journeys of the world’.

His other connection with Teignmouth is a ‘magical’ one – follow the link at the end to find out.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel
(David Haines, May 2010)

Isambard, it ain’t hard
to see why he’s the leading engineer of his generation
Railways, ships, bridges, weapons, trains
Even designed Paddington Station.

Great Western, Great Britain, Great Eastern
Each the greatest ship of its day
Royal Albert, Clifton Suspension, Maidenhead Railway
Each bridge unique in its way

Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Atmospheric Railway
Driven by a vacuum from Exeter to Newton Abbot by the sea
Prefabricated Hospitals for soldiers, many lives saved.
Florence Nightingale was pleased

(Note: A round to be sung in four parts, in ‘Swung Rhythm’)

Want to know more?  Check out:

Isambard Kingdom Brunel …..
South Devon Singers …..

Keats at Teignmouth

Charles Causley

Charles Causley

So, moving on to people.  Almost inevitably we keep returning to Keats and there are still more to come.

We have already seen a sonnet that Wilfred Owen wrote about his ‘hero’ Keats. Here is another eulogy to Keats, this time from the poet Charles Causley.  It is one of his earliest poems and comes from his ‘Collected Poems 1951-1997’.

If you want to feel the full power of his words try walking the ‘wild sea-wall’ and reading this out loud whilst standing on the point at Teignmouth!

Keats At Teignmouth – Spring 1818
(Charles Causley)

By the wild sea-wall I wandered
Blinded by the salting sun,
While the sulky Channel thundered
Like an old Trafalgar gun.

And I watched the gaudy river
Under trees of lemon-green,
Coiling like a scarlet bugle
Through the valley of the Teign.

When spring fired her fusilladoes
Salt-spray, sea-spray on the sill,
When the budding scarf of April
Ravelled on the Devon hill.

Then I saw the crystal poet
Leaning on the old sea-rail;
In his breast lay death, the lover,
In his head, the nightingale.

Want to know more?  Check out:

Charles Causley …..
Poetry Walk …..



Devon A Poem

Devon A Poem

We’ve completed the walk along the sea-front and up to Haldon.  Now we drop down from Lidwell back to Teignmouth and a new batch of poems, picking up a theme of ‘people’.

We return to the nineteenth century with today’s post which is a selection of snippets from a poem called “Devon” written by Isaac Gompertz in 1825 and published by E.Croydon at the Public Library in Teignmouth. The poem is a sort of historical travelogue in verse, but has some interesting references to various people who moved in the social circles of Teignmouth of that time.

It is 37 pages long so I have just selected snippets which relate to the areas around Teignmouth. There are a series of notes at the end of the poem which explain some of the references in the poem and I have included these after each snippet of verse where appropriate.

(I. Gompertz)

While o’er the borders of the fluent Teign
and Ocean wide in retrospect expands,
Thro’ Devon’s undulating sylvan haunts
To upland scenes of wood and water borne, …..(P1)

 Note 2: “The scene of the Poem is placed near Teignmouth, of which the Teignmouth Guide observes — ”To the antiquary the Town of Teignmouth from its age, being coeval with the Caer Isca or city of Exeter, must be a place of interest — indeed a Note in Polwhele mentions Phoenician Coins, to have been found there; and added to this a Roman Causeway was found not long since, in building a Bridge at Teigngrace;”

Exalted on this elevated site,
Delightful on this eminence alone.
Earth, sky, and sea, and crags abrupt to view,
And Hills cerulean melting into air. — ….. (P3)

 Note 4: – “The Hill (page 3 line 5), called Cork-screw Hill in the road to Bishopsteignton”

“And gently flows the glassy Teign our guide;
While in the rear still widely ocean spreads.
Like human life to drear eternity- “ ….. (P18)

Note 8: – (Page 18 line 7) – extract from the Teignmouth Guide p6 about the river Teign

Descend we from these gay enamel’d slopes,
And retrospective take a bolder flight,
Where less familiar objects strike the gaze,
On Holcombe’s brow stupendous, where behold,
The awful swells, as billows of the deep,
Precipitate arrested in their course. ….. (P23)

Note 11 – (Page 23, line 11) – Holcombe Down is situated near Little Haldon, on which the Guide observes ”Little Haldon, from whence is a bird’s-eye view of all the surrounding Country, as well as, a commanding view of the channel the Exe and the Teign”

Then bid adieu! But yet askaunt behold
The beauteous Exe, and Teign, two lucid streams,
That pour at once their tribute to the main;” (P32)

 Note 13: – (page 32, line 16) – “From this point of Holcombe Down, you see to the west Teignmouth, the River Teign, Shaldon, its adjacent hamlets, Shaldon Hill, and the Ness …..”

“Nor be the Cartwrights (14) Lucas (l5) Luny (l6) Strutt (17)
And Tonkin (18) — men of science and of taste, —
(And with their circles graced of Ladies fair)
Forgot — in this bless’d province of our Isle,! (P35)

 Note 14: – (page 35, line 4) – “The Cartwrights, – skilful Surgeons of Teignmouth, an amiable and accomplished family”

Note 15: – (page 35, line 4) – “Lucas – an eminent Doctor of Medicine, possessing great taste in arts, likewise an amiable family of Teignmouth”

Note 16: – (page 35, line 4) – “Luny – a celebrated Marine Painter, who is the more remarkable for being so great an invalid, and martyr to the Rheumatic Gout, as to be nearly deprived of the use of his members, and is under the necessity of having even his pencil put into his hand.”

Note 17: – (page 35, line 4) – “Strutt – a very excellent Artist, possessing great versatility of talent equally eminent as a miniature and Landscape Painter, also an amiable character and a Dissenting Clergyman.”

Note 18: – (page 35, line 5) – “Tonkin – there are a few Gentlemen in the county more generally known, and none more respected than Captain Tonkin to which the universality of his talents, and his scientific pursuits, greatly contribute.”

Want to know more?  Check out:

Isaac Gompertz …..

The Lidwell Monk

Lidwell Chapel

Lidwell Chapel

I couldn’t resist the temptation to escape briefly from 19th century verse and do a different (and shorter!) take on the Monk of Haldon story, so here’s my attempt.

Enjoy …..


The Lidwell Monk

Part I

The moor mists disturbed the traveller’s soul,
blurring the weft of the fluttering robe,
clothing the friar, and frayed by the devil’s breath.

The moor mists whispered in the traveller’s ear,
soft-singing the swell of the siren’s thrall,
“come, come, come on down, to My Lady’s Well”.

The moor mists kissed the traveller’s cheek
as he drifted to that lilt off the wheel-rutted path,
lit by the sprites of the fire-damp lamps.

The moor mists lingered on the traveller’s face
to the fingering reel of the Lidwell monk
where the spring of My Lady flows free.

The moor mists clung to the traveller’s throat
at the sting of the blade that slit to the bone
and the throb of his blood down the well.

The moor mists swirled, curling back to the road,
unfurling the robe of the Lidwell monk,
rehearsing the song of the siren’s thrall
to lure another traveller’s soul.

Part II

The moor mists dispersed as the full moon rose
lifting the curse for the sailor come home,
the sailor come home from the sea.

The sirens still sang of My Lady’s home
but his blood ran cold at the sight of the monk
offering the travellers’ dole.

He ate of the bread and he drank of the wine
and his head felt dull on the palliasse bed
that lulled him and soothed him to rest.

Then his eyes caught the glint of the flashing blade
and the grin of the monk in the windowed moon
and his gauntlet bore the bite of the knife

Whilst his cutlass tore through the thickness of night
and carved into two the monk from his head
dropping deep, down deep to My Lady’s well.

Now on Haldon moor when the moor mists swirl
you must still take care though you’re pure of heart,
for I’ve heard that there the ghost of the monk
still lurks at My Lady’s well.

Want to know more?  Check out:

The Legend …..
Monk of Haldon Poem …..