Congratulations to Roger Deeks, who jointly founded the F.W. Harvey Society in January 2010. Roger was recently appointed Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire. This is a lifetime appointment. Roger will represent the Queen at events throughout the county.
Funeral at St Peter’s Minsterworth 1957
The Society has been fortunate to obtain an original draft of the report of Will Harvey’s funeral held at St Mary’s church Minsterworth Gloucestershire in 1957. This document includes names of all attendees, including family members and clergy.
Report and photo from the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Review.
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.
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.
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.
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.