Places with connections to F W Harvey
Below are just a few of the places in Gloucestershire that have a Harvey link. The village of Yorkley has many places associated with the poet, his house, the nearby village school,the Brass Band Meeting Room and the War Memorial he attended every year. The local pub he frequented, The Bailey Inn, is still in existence and the landlord will show you ‘Harvey’s seat.’ All of these places are still in use today.
Frederick William Harvey always saw himself as a Gloucestershire Lad: he was born in Hartpury, grew up in Minsterworth, loved Gloucester, lived in Broadoak and Pillowell .…. but spent most of his life in a large house in Yorkley.
In 1926, the year of the General Strike, the Harvey family left Broadoak and started looking for somewhere to live near enough to Lydney, where he now had an office, but closer to nature. They rented accommodation in Yorkley and Pillowell before finding High View, the solid house with a walled garden back in Yorkley, a few yards from The Bailey Inn and up the hill from The Stag public house and The George another public house. They bought it in 1927 and ten years later he sold his Lydney business and practised from home. Harvey died there on February 13 1957, a few weeks short of his 69th birthday.
In Yorkley he is remembered not only for his poetry, although there were and still are many who treasure their copies of Ducks or In Pillowell Woods, but for the man himself. He played a real part in Yorkley life, not least his regular attendance and poetry-reading on Remembrance Day at the cenotaph; as a personality he has left an indelible impression on his adopted home village. In the thirty years he and his family lived at High View he became probably the most recognisable and charismatic character in Yorkley and around. (‘A thick-set, dark-haired, dreamy little man, uncouth to see’ he described himself.) He had a characteristic way of walking with his hands held behind his back and was always willing to pass the time of day with villagers.
The Whitecroft male voice choir, a favourite interest of Will Harvey, was very successful in the 1930s, winning many competitions and recording for the BBC on several occasions. For many years they held a dinner in January. In 1932 the guest speakers were Herbert Howells and Will Harvey. Harvey was asked to make up a poem about the choir on the spur of the moment and this was the result:
An Impromptu Ode to Whitecroft Choir, Jan 1932
The curious thing about the ‘Greeks’
They always sing before they speaks
And drinks before they sing.
And when they win a challenge cup,
They straightways goes to fill un up
And do peculiar things.
(N.B. The Whitecroft Male Voice choir like other Whitecroft organisations were known locally as ‘the Greeks’ – said to be due to the design of the badge of Whitecroft rugby club)
The Society has a ‘Memories of Harvey’ project which is trying to preserve some ‘Harvey stories’ – if you have a Harvey story please contact the Society.
Interest in Harvey’s movements and places of interest extend beyond Gloucestershire. The Cheltenham and Gloucester branch of the Western Front Association conducted a battlefield tour of the Western Front that centred on the experiences of the Harvey
brothers. Will Harvey’s brother Eric, who was twice awarded the Military Cross is buried in Estaires Communal Cemetery, was killed in action on September 30th 1918. Will Harvey had made the same journey with his brother Roy in 1920 when they took his grieving mother to visit his grave. The 1920 pilgrimage included a visit to Douai where Will Harvey was held in solitary confinement after capture.
The Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum in Gloucester has a painting by M. Dovaston of the action in which Will Harvey won his D.C.M., and several Great War artefacts including a hand written note to his commanding officer. These are not on display and viewing has to be requested.