F W Harvey window dedicated by Bishop of Warrington

Report and photo from the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Review.

A photo of some of the people present at the dedication of the new window.
Rev Steve Taylor, Bishop David Jennings, FW Harvey’s daughter Eileen and Steve Cooper and Marie Fraser-Griffiths of the Harvey Society with the window

A memorial window to Forest poet FW Harvey was dedicated in St Peter’s church, Minsterworth on 12 November 2016.

Harvey was churchwarden and choirmaster at Minsterworth Church and his affection for the village was an important influence.

Five generations of the poet’s family, including his 94-year-old daughter Eileen, were at St Peter’s Church to see the window dedicated by the Right Rev David Jennings, a former Bishop of Warrington and now an honorary assistant bishop in Gloucester.

Bishop David said it was “a very particular pleasure” to be asked to dedicate the window which was designed and made by Graham Dow­ding of Nailsworth near Stroud.

The bishop said his father described a slim volume of Harvey’s poetry as one of his “most precious and treasured possessions.”

The FW Harvey Society worked with the church on the project to install the window which reflects the Glou­cestershire countryside and its wildlife which was such an inspiration to Harvey.

At it centre is a quote from his poem The Return which was written when Harvey was in a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany during the First World War.

Bishop David said: “We are giving thanks to God for the life and work of Will Harvey and the window that is to be dedicated in his memory is the result of much hard work by the vicar and churchwardens and the church council of this parish working closely with the FW Harvey Society.

“All are to be congratulated on bringing it to such a successful conclusion with the window so beautifully designed and made by Graham Dow­ding.

“How good it is that this remarkable Glou­cestershire man, soldier, poet, husband, father, grandfather, solicitor, broadcaster now has a window to honour his memory in the place he loved so much.”

There were readings of Harvey’s poetry by Paula Lynch, Anthony Boden and Anthony Lynch.

The service was led by Rev Steve Taylor, who is vicar at Minsterworth, and the choir included members of the Blaisdon-based Tan House Singers.

Memorial Window installed in St Peter’s church, Minsterworth

A photo of the F W Harvey Memorial Window
The F W Harvey Memorial Window

We would like to thank everyone who has supported the project to install a commemorative window in St Peter’s Church, Minsterworth.
We are delighted to inform you that Graham Dowding, the specialist stained glass artist, has completed and installed the new window.  See pictures below.
A special high quality Memorial Book will be produced to show the names of donors who have contributed to the window (i.e. those who have chosen to have their donation acknowledged).  This book will remain on show in St Peter’s as a permanent record.
A ‘dedication ceremony’ will be held later in 2016 – date to be announced.

F W Harvey Memorial window appeal

Memorial window in St Peter’s Church Minsterworth

The F.W. Harvey Society is working with its Minsterworth members, the Parochial Church Council and Minsterworth Community History Project to install a small stained glass window dedicated to the memory of the Poet’s life and work. St Peter’s Church played a significant part in the early life of the poet and he lies here in the churchyard with other members of his family. It is therefore fitting that his life should be commemorated by a window his beautiful church in its glorious riverside setting. All donations large or small are most welcome. Thank you.

Will Harvey’s War performed at Everyman Theatre Cheltenham

A play based on a newly discovered F W Harvey story is performed in Cheltenham

Wednesday 30 July – Saturday 2 August 2014

The commemoration of the First World War in Gloucestershire was launched in entertaining style at the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham with the premiere of Will Harvey’s War, a play adapted by Paul Milton from a long-lost novel by F.W. Harvey.  The soldier poet’s faith, lust for life and romantic leanings were very much in evidence throughout the excellent portrayal of the poet, in his youth by Benjamin Crossley, and as an adult by Daniel Cane.  It was fitting that the story was a clever combination of fact and fiction that evoked the humour, pathos and insight which is found in the poetry of F.W. Harvey. The choreography, staging, music from the Cheltenham Silver Band and acting by a small group of professionals together with a large cast of community players produced a mesmerising performance that appealed to all tastes.

From dealing with the death of his brother Eric, a fellow soldier, through to his capture in the First World War, there were many elements of Will Harvey’s real war, but this was played out without deference to his real life gallantry and commission as an officer.  In this story, his true-life failed attempts at escape from a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany were transformed, in the second act, into an ethereal tale of love, release and homecoming. The fantasy was informed by deft touches born of his actual experience; the fugitives discovered they were safe because the railway sleepers beneath their feet were made of wood and not iron, as found under German railways.

Several familiar poems were beautifully woven into the play; The Horses, which expressed the grief Will felt at losing his father, was presented in an entirely new way as part of a clever portrayal his early life. The poet, who spent the last thirty years of his life in Yorkley, was a great walker, and it was on these walks that he ruminated on life and literature.  The play presented many of the actual journeys in his life: a long walk with his brother contemplating their future, the long walk back to Minsterworth from his miserable life in Ecclestone and the long journey home after the War.  The sting in the tail in the drama was that there was no happiness at the end of this final journey, and for many returning soldiers this was often the case.

This was an excellent production and no ordinary drama of mud, futility and war.  It had a passion for life, and explained the useful idealism of the pre-war era.  Hopefully the well-adapted drama will be seen again as it lends itself to both professional and community productions and gave enormous pleasure to the audience and participants.

Forest Brass at Gloucester Cathedral in F W Harvey themed concert

An original score Chris Howley is performed at Gloucester Cathedral

27th June 2014 7.30 pm

Forest of Dean Brass and Gloucester Cathedral Youth Choir gave outstanding performances on Friday evening in their concert themed around F.W. Harvey and the commemoration of the start of the First World War. The concert featured poems narrated by invited guests, choral music of the finest quality with outstanding solos, an emotive version of Nimrod and audience participation in some First World War musical songs. The quality of the performance shone through with a breathtaking version of In Flanders a work that connected Will Harvey, Ivor Gurney and Herbert Howells, three key figures from the era. The final piece was ‘A Gloucestershire Lad at Home and Abroad’ an original composition by talented Lydney-born Musical Director Chris Howley who composed a score inspired by F.W. Harvey’s first poetry anthology published in 1916.

The mixture of choral music and brass was perfect in the amazing acoustics of Gloucester Cathedral, and the premiered work received a standing ovation from the large audience. The encore, Jerusalem, featured the choir, band and the audience, all conducted by Adrian Partington, Cathedral Director of Music, in a fitting finale for a great night. Mike Kennerley, compere, kept the momentum of the evening moving at a cracking pace by explaining the relationship of the music to Will Harvey and giving a highly amusing commentary. The leaving collection raised well over £500 for the charity Care for Casualties. Watts of Lydney were thanked for their sponsorship.

Gill Phelps, Chair of Forest of Dean Brass said: “It was a terrific experience for the young members of the Band and Choir. The young band players were introduced to Dame Janet Trotter DBE who congratulated them on their musicianship and gave them encouragement for the future.”
Chris Howley said: “It was a great night; the feedback from everyone I spoke to was fantastic. The Cathedral is probably one of the hardest venues for a brass band to play in but we filled it with some really big balanced sounds. The standard of playing was excellent. It was a great platform following our recent success in becoming West of England Second Section Champions, and the forerunner for competing in the National Championships at Cheltenham in September.”

Photos Courtesy Sarah Howley

The FW Harvey Papers

The annual Melville Watts Memorial Lecture was held on Thursday 3rd October 2013 at the Annexe Venue in Lydney; Grant Repshire of the Gloucestershire Archives and University of Exeter presented The FW Harvey Papers: Unlocking Gloucestershire’s Literary Heritage, Reflections on his Life and Work. One year into his remarkable project of archiving the papers of FWH, Grant set out the breadth and meaning of this fabulous collection.

FW Harvey was mainly acknowledged as a famous poet but the papers reveal the true extent of his BBC broadcasting career and wider literary output. In addition to his interest in the arts Will Harvey continued a legal career for much of his life.

This presentation included a brief resumé of Will Harvey’s life story and how these papers came to light. We heard of new biographical information revealed by the papers. There was information about Will Harvey’s lost essays and his correspondence from Ivor Gurney, Marion Scott, Herbert Howells and his network of old comrades from the First World War. Grant described the scrapbooks and letters that give an insight into how FW Harvey developed his beliefs and convictions.

The annual lecture that hosted this presentation is a memorial to Melville Watts, an early member and supporter of the Society who promoted the life and work of F.W. Harvey throughout his life.

Note: Kansas native Grant Repshire received a bachelor’s degree in history at the University of Kansas in 2005. Following graduation he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army. Trained as a cavalry officer and paratrooper, he was assigned to the famed 82nd Airborne Division, seeing active service in Iraq and Afghanistan. He left the army in late 2010 at the rank of Captain. In 2013 he received an MA in history from the University of Exeter. He is now studying at Exeter for a PhD in English through a REACT studentship ‘The Papers of FW Harvey’, which is a collaborative project also involving the Gloucestershire Archives and the FW Harvey Estate.