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    • Binsted Writing



      Writing about Binsted (and in Binsted) is very varied.   Hubert Roberts, churchwarden of Binsted Church from the 1970s to the 1990s, wrote the following poem which hangs on the wall in the church:

      A Village Church is Born


      An empty field where children came
      To make their daisy chains
      While monks and peasants planned a church
      In praise of Jesu’s name.

      From forest brakes the children came
      Young withies in their hands
      Soon intertwined in earthen walls:
      A shrine for Jesu’s name.

      One windless day the children came
      And handed up the reeds
      To thatchers plying ancient craft
      For love of Jesu’s name.

      In God’s good time the children came
      And touched the Bishop’s hand
      Who signed the cross to sanctify
      In gentle Jesu’s name.

      Then down the years the children came
      To kneel in simple prayer,
      With priest and all the villagers
      Invoking Jesu’s name.

      To such a church the children came
      Long centuries ago
      And still a sweetness lingers there
      Of peace in Jesu’s name.


      This timeless, ideal, repetitive vision – nothing about wars of religion, earning a living, or what most children would rather be doing during church services – has some truth in it; the church was probably once thatched.    And a ‘sweetness of peace’ is something many people have felt in Binsted.   

      How different from the poems of Laurie Lee, some of which reflect his experiences – recorded in his diary - of spending time in Binsted Woods together with his lover, Lorna Wishart, during the aerial bombardment of 18 August 1940.  

      ‘Pondering your scented skull

      I seek its antique song of peace:

      Desires uncovered by your tide

      Are trembling reeds with sea-blue voices.


      I wind my hands around your head

      And blow the hollow flutes of love,

      But anger sprouts among the leaves

      And fields grow sharp with war.

      Wheat bleeds upon a wind of steel

      And ivy splits the poisoned sky,

      While wasps that cannot fertilise

      Dive at the open flowers of men.


      Your lips are turreted with guns,

      And bullets crack across your kiss,

      And death slides down upon a string

      To rape the heart of our horizon.’

      (‘Song in August’, 1940, quoted in Valerie Grove, The Life and Loves of Laurie Lee, Robson Press, 2014, p. 138.)

           From a few years later in WW2 comes the description by Michael Wishart of Binsted Park, the large curved field within Binsted Woods which was turned into a mediaeval style park, with a ha-ha and great oaks reclaimed from woodland, by the owners of Binsted House in about 1800.  

      ‘From the church, and off the main lane which is all our village offers, there runs a muddy path, through fields, across a bridge in a small, sunken copse, into what was then parkland: a grand, broad, upward slope of green, dotted with ancient trees.

           Binsted Park epitomised the vanishing England of my youth.’

      (Michael Wishart, High Diver, Quartet, 1978, p. 21.)

            At present Binsted keeps its ‘sweetness of peace’.


      Emma Tristram