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.

News
Disruption at Waterloo after a person was hit by a train
newsCancellations and disrupted service after person hit by train
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The almost deserted Liverpool Echo Arena on Monday
tvCan X Factor last in the face of plummeting numbers auditioning
News
Kirsty Bertarelli is launching a singing career with an album of songs detailing her observations of “real life”
news
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
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Content Assistant / Copywriter

    £15310 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reception Manager

    £18750 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Hotel in Chadderton is a popular ch...

    Guru Careers: Marketing and Communications Manager

    £Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing and Co...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence