Tag Archives: tacy rickard

Exciting News

Cover imageIt has been a little while since the last post mainly because I have been busy putting together a selection of these poems into a book “Pebbles on the Shore”, which is currently at the printers.

Poetry and Song have long been a traditional way of recording stories of people and events, as an alternative way of remembering.  So, with that in mind, each piece of verse in the book has a brief story attached to tie it in to its place in the shaping of Teignmouth and the surrounding area.  I have also worked with a local artist, Maureen Fayle, who has illustrated the various pieces.  Her superb pen and ink sketches lend so much more depth to the stories that unfold.

Fresh to Bleed 13-cropThe selection goes back almost 400 years but there are a few contemporary pieces as well so thanks to the ‘modern-day’ contributors for allowing me to include their work:  Ian Chamberlain (one of the co-founders of Poetry Teignmouth), Kim Edwards, Bob Freshwater (and the Back Beach Boyz), Deborah Harvey, Barbara Hine, Don Pearson and Tacy Rickard.

Teignmouth 27 - cropped1This project started just over two years ago with a thought and a question. Walking up the cliff path through the beautiful Mules Park in East Teignmouth I saw a poem, The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy, posted on the noticeboard. Who put it there I don’t know, but it struck a chord. My thoughts drifted to Keats. Teignmouth is proud of its association with John Keats even though he stayed here only three months whilst looking after his brother Tom who had come earlier in hope that the sea air would alleviate, if not cure, his consumption. Then came the random question – were there any other poems or poets associated with Teignmouth? And so this project was born.

The journey to this book has been like a walk along the beach, occasionally finding interesting pebbles whose shape, texture and colour define the shoreline like poems marking time in the history of Teignmouth.



Eastcliff Car Park

Eastcliff House ... and carpark

Eastcliff House … and carpark

So we leave the Den and the Pier behind and head east, soon reaching ‘Old Maids’ Walk’ at either end of which once stood pairs of whalebone arches.

The path splits here and we are going to take a short detour following the left-hand path up towards Mules Park.  We stop on the bridge that crosses the railway and look inland to what is now Eastcliff carpark, a macadam desert.

Once it had grandeur, once it was Eastcliff house.  This poem by Tacy Rickard reflects its changing fortune and the changing times.


Eastcliff Car Park
(Tacy Rickard)

“Near the town of Teignmouth stands the beautiful residence of W.Tayleur, M.D.”
The Georgian gazetteer proclaims, and advises a walk along the cliff to view the sight.
“The admired and truly elegant mansion of the late Dr Tayleur… with grounds extending to the sea cliffs”,
state the sales particulars of 1837.
Bright walls gleamed among the clustered trees,
The sun burnishing rain-washed slates,
An iridescent lawn cloaking the slopes.

Now a tarmac shell,
Bounded by a scrap of wall,
An abandoned archway,
The railway gouging a wound through the land that once hemmed the cliff:
the complexity of the space erased.

Beneath the parking bays,
The footprint of the house.
Shadows of rooms, doorways, windows,
fragments of masonry entombed:
opaque glass slivers from once sun warmed windows,
splintered timbers crumbled to a dark stain.

And the remnants of past lives:
Shards of teacups from Victorian garden parties;
a rusted blade, dropped at the last pruning;
a tarnished coin fallen from a waistcoat pocket,
an earring spilt while the woman danced;
discarded marbles, cloudy, pitted;
a charred clay pipe in the turned earth.

Here were dinner parties where town worthies forged their bonds;
Here was birth, passion, betrayal, death.
The stones, once humming with human voices,
now shaken by the combusting throb of coach engines,
the thrust of the diesel through the opened tunnel,
Electronic pulse drumming.

Heedless shoppers spill down the slopes,
minds drifting away to the day ahead.
Eyes fast forward to the future.

The terrace where they sipped and dipped sun dappled appetisers,
lazily gazing across the rooftops,
the sun’s glow firing the sea,
the wave of a sail catching the eye,
the evening scents drifting by

a place to alight and leave
but not to be.

Want to know more?  Check out:

Eastcliff House …..

Funeral Instructions

Harry Buxton Forman,

Harry Buxton Forman,

Thanks to Tacy Rickard for discovering this quirky historic reference.

This is the story of Henry Buxton Forman, born 1852, whose family moved to Teignmouth from London when he was ten. He became an accomplished literary forger with many of his works targeted at the American market where there was a special interest in works of Shelley.

Forman died after a long illness on 15 June 1917 and his ashes were sprinkled on the River Teign that flowed near his Devon childhood home. He left his funeral instructions in an untitled published verse:

Let the prison’d litch-fire batten on the tissues
Leaving naught but ashes, clean and grey and pure
Gather, friends, the handful that from the furnace issues,
Cushion them in crane-bill, and bear them to the Moor.
Ashes of her poet, bear them to one land,
Take them up to Dartmoor and strow them in the Teign,
Bid the river roll them, roll them through his own land,
Rush them through the harbour and lose them in the Main!

 Want to know more? Check out:

 Henry Buxton Forman …..

In Memoriam

We come up-to-date with a recent piece of verse by Tacy Rickard, but its roots are in history.  It recalls the death of four young girls on the Teignmouth Barr in 1734.  The sandbars around the mouth of the Teign estuary have always been treacherous, as this story testifies, though today we have the National Coastwatch and the Royal National Lifeboat Institute to help if people get into trouble.  The four young girls had no-one in 1734.

In Memoriam

Tacy Rickard, March 2014

“Elizabeth Vicary Mary Potter Mary Vicary Mary Brewer
all four drowned upon the Barr June 19th 1734”
An inked entry in the burial register,
Stark epitaph among the simple list of ageless faceless names

In the curate’s hand, knowing the fullness of the families’ grief,
on the third day, standing by the graves.
That hand had cupped their heads with water,
water of life, water of death.
Secret hopes and passions doused
Did some young men sigh and quietly quench their dreams?

Three known to each other from birth
On the edge of womanhood
A younger child in tow.

Did their mothers warn them to take care?
Ask Liz to take Mary from under her feet?
And gather shellfish from the shore?

The waiting pot bubbles on the hearth;
The wind changes, river thrusting through, breaking the waves,
The bar shifts, tossing the harvest into the tide

“Elizabeth Vicary Mary Potter Mary Vicary Mary Brewer
all four drowned upon the Barr June 19th 1734”

Want to know more?  Checkout:  Four Young Girls