Six Of The Best: Poetic Pilgrimages

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

As a new memorial to Wilfred Owen opens in France, Simone Kane goes in the footsteps of some of the past century's most famous poets

1. Thomas Hardy, Dorset

In a fitting end for a genius of literary tragedy, only Thomas Hardy's heart is buried at Stinsford Churchyard, in the grave of his first wife, Emma.

To aficionados, the location will be familiar as Mellstock, the setting for his second published novel, Under the Greenwood Tree, or, The Mellstock Quire. Hardy was christened at St Michael's but, against his wishes, his body was cremated and interred in Poets' Corner at Westminster Abbey. Make this a stop on a tour of Hardy's beloved "Wessex", including Dorchester, where the Dorset County Museum is home to a collection of memorabilia.

Details: visit-dorset.com

2. Vita Sackville-West, Kent

Set in the heart of the only remaining medieval deer park in Kent, imposing Knole House was not only the birthplace of the poet and author Vita Sackville-West but also the setting for Virginia Woolf's Orlando, which was dedicated to her lover, Vita. Sackville-West recalled her happy childhood here in Knole and the Sackvilles. The house is now a National Trust property and visitors can soak up the atmosphere from 13 rooms that remain much as they were in the 18th century. Vita was passed over for the inheritance of Knole, so she bought nearby Sissinghurst Castle and designed its now-famous gardens with her husband.

Details: nationaltrust.org.uk

3. Wilfred Owen, France

Yesterday saw the inauguration of a striking contemporary memorial to Wilfred Owen, the First World War poet, at Ors. At the request of locals – who wished to commemorate the place where Lieutenant Owen spent his last night on 3 November 1918 – La Maison Forestière has been transformed by the British artist Simon Patterson. He has breathed life into the disused building, creating a house that is at once a sculpture and an audio piece. Under a roof that now represents an open book, the internal space is filled with animated projections of Owen's texts, and the cellar where he wrote his last letter home has been preserved.

Details: newpatrons.eu/news

4. Dylan Thomas, Camarthenshire

The Welsh poet spent the final four years of his life at the Boathouse at Laugharne. The natural surroundings inspired him and it was here that he produced some of his greatest work. Set on a clifftop overlooking the Taf Estuary, its location on the edge of the small town of Laugharne provided Thomas with the detail he needed to imagine the fictitious setting of Llareggub for Under Milk Wood. Today it's a heritage centre. Fans can tour the Boathouse and Writing Shed which have been preserved much as they were, apart from the conversion of a few original rooms to create a reception, bookshop and tearoom.

Details: dylanthomasboathouse.com

5. Ted Hughes, Yorkshire

Budding writers can gain inspiration by staying in Mytholmroyd at the birthplace of the former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes. It was converted a few years ago to offer a combination of holiday cottage, writer's retreat and homage to one of our literary greats. The house, however, has not been frozen in time like many memorials – it is thoroughly modernised, with just a few nods to the 1930s, the era of Hughes's childhood. It is curated by the Elmet Trust which promotes the local Hughes connection. The poet's childhood friend, Donald Crossley, and Hughes's brother, Gerald, have pinpointed the locations of many references in his early poems.

Details: Explore the local landscape that inspired the poet at the Ted Hughes Festival (21 to 23 Oct; theelmettrust.co.uk) or rent "Ted's House" (ref 212144) through yorkshire-cottages.info

6. Sylvia Plath, London

How could you seek out Ted Hughes's past without a visit to the one-time home of his tragic lover and wife, Sylvia Plath, who lived at 3 Chalcot Square, Primrose Hill, north London, for much of her adult life? Commemorated as part of the London Blue Plaque scheme, the house is not open to the public but the square's gardens – which Plath overlooked as she wrote – are. It's the perfect place to dip into her most famous work, The Bell Jar.

Details: London's Blue Plaque scheme is run by English Heritage (english-heritage.org.uk). Nationwide blue plaques schemes are found on the relevant tourism bodies' websites.

Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Product Development

    £26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Product Development departm...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Estates Contracts & Leases Manager

    £30000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Estates Team of this group ...

    Day In a Page

    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border