Letter: Magical tomb destroyed by militarism

Click to follow
The Independent Online
HAVING READ your excellent article on Rupert Brooke's grave ('Not for ever England?', 15 August), may I through your columns pay public tribute to Douglas MacRae-Brown for his devoted care, over many years, of the grave. The latest threat to it is most distressing.

In 1920 my father, Stanley Casson, who was then Assistant Director at the British School of Archaeology in Athens, was responsible for the construction of the elegant marble tomb on Skyros at the request of Mrs Brooke, the poet's mother.

For the past 20 years Douglas MacRae-Brown has tended it as I witnessed in 1987 when I also wielded a paint brush on the railings. This year I returned and found it in pristine condition, the railings surrounding the stone newly painted again. However, I was horrified to see the changes in this idyllic spot. The bulldozers have created a wide road which sweeps down the mountainside to Trebuki Bay, levelling all the vegetation and wild flowers. Even the tiny stone jetty which has probably been unchanged since my father built it, is a pile of rocks.

There need be no doubt as to the grave being a religious site. In his book, Steady Drummer, my father states that the tomb was officially consecrated by the head of the monastery of St George on Skyros, according to the rites of the Greek Orthodox Church.

I fear that the magical quality of that 'corner of a foreign field' is fast slipping away in the interests of militarism. That the grave still remains intact we owe to Douglas MacRae-Brown, but there is a limit to what one man can do to ensure that it will still be there for future generations.

Lady MacLellan

Buchlyvie, Stirling