Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Adlestrop, Gloucestershire

ARCHITEXTS: Things written on buildings (3)

Even bus shelters, the humblest of buildings, can have their fascination. At their best, built of local materials, they enhance the roadside scene and make relaxing places in which to sit and wait. But this one has a different story to tell. It is the bus shelter at Adlestrop, the village immortalized in a poem by Edward Thomas, who described how his train stopped unexpectedly at the tiny village station: 'What I saw / Was Adlestrop – only the name / And willows, willow-herb, and grass, / And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry...'. It's a short poem, but one of Thomas's most popular, both because of its evocative description of a summer halt in rural England and because the place seems to stand for all the villages of England (and the blackbird that sings there for all the birds, not just of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, but of all England too).

Trains to London still pass through Adlestrop, but there's no longer a station here for them to stop at. When it closed, one of the station signs was saved from the collectors of railwayana and erected here, with a tiny plaque on the bench reproducing the text of Thomas's poem – a telling reminder of how poetry and place can creatively collide.

1 comment:

Peter Ashley said...

The bus shelter seat is also an original GWR platform seat, with their early monogram cast into the supports.