On Thursday 23rd May 2013 the Society organised a well-supported walk that took in places of interest to the poet Will Harvey in Yorkley and Pillowell.
The tour started at Yorkley Village Hall and first stop was ‘Highview’ the old school house, the poet’s home for thirty years. The walk was led by Steve Cooper and Geoff Davis who are both highly knowledgeable about local history and poems that reflect local places and events. Joyce Baxter another member contributed with pictures and her own recollections. Steve Cooper described how the famous poet and local solicitor found himself in court for breaching the ‘black out’ in 1941. Steve believes that Will had been brought to the dock not so much for his own transgressions as those of his son Patrick, who had likened the local policeman to a pig that he kept in his garden!
The walkers at first followed the road to Lydney, the route often followed by F.W. Harvey when he walked to work at Bank House in the town. They then visited a number of sites in Yorkley Wood, before walking down into Pillowell. The walkers were kindly given a tour of Pillowell Chapel by local woman Mary James, noting the Roll of Honour featuring many of the poet’s contemporaries from the First World War. They then visited Grove House Cottage, close to the home of his solicitor friend Arthur James, where F.W. Harvey lived when he first moved to the area.
The walkers saw a number of properties that were once public houses frequented by F.W. Harvey where he often met his friend, ‘Charlie the Black’ a famous local character and ‘shoeshine’ eulogised in a poem after his death. Following a look at Pillowell Woods immortalised in verse in the volume of poems under that title, the party travelled up Stag Hill to the headquarters of Forest of Dean Brass; conducted by Rojer Phelps, the band entertained the walkers with ‘Forest of Dean’ and ‘Dambusters’ among several pieces.
Gill Phelps, Chair of Forest of Dean Brass said: “We were delighted to welcome the F.W. Harvey Society to our rehearsal. The musical and literary traditions of the Forest are closely linked and brass bands have played in our building since 1903. The walkers heard music played by the band including several young players who are the future of brass music in the area.”
Roger Deeks, Chair of the F.W. Harvey Society said: “We are grateful to Steve, Geoff and Joyce who made this an interesting and entertaining walk. As we wandered around we enjoyed seeing the brass band rehearse, quiz night in The Bailey and skittles at The Nag’s Head. Companionship, music and literature were great treasures to F.W. Harvey and these traditions continue much as they did in his lifetime.”