WALPOLES GRAVESTONE - The Herries Chronicles
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Short walk into the churchyard.
PLEASE KEEP TO THE PATH - THE WAY TO WALPOLE'S GRAVE IS WELL SIGN POSTED.
In October 1935, Hugh Walpole (1884 – 1941) wrote the following remarks in his diary: "Shall I have any lasting reputation? Like every author in history who has seriously tried to be an artist, I sometimes consider the question. Fifty years from now I think the Lake stories will still be read locally, other-wise I shall be mentioned in a small footnote to my period in literary history." Perhaps he was rather harsh and pessimistic in this prediction, but of all his works only the Lake stories or the Herries Chronicles have consistently remained in print.
“However, Walpole, is beginning to attract the Lakeland literati once again and that revival of interest may prove attractive to film makers, particularly when it comes to the Herries Chronicles, which have been described as the area’s own Forsyte Saga”.
In 1923 having led a restless life, Walpole took a short holiday in the Lake District, and became enchanted with the area, feeling that at long last he had found a place where he could settle. The following year, he moved into Brackenburn, a hillside house overlooking Derwentwater, and it was there that he wrote the majority of his remaining output. Over the ensuing months, he absorbed the atmosphere, scenery and history of the Lake District, and as early as 1925 he was mulling over the idea of a series of Lake novels.
These ideas evolved over the coming years until Walpole had worked out a grand design for four large novels setting out 'the history of the Herries family over a period of two hundred years, from the 18th century to the depression of the 1930s.
The first book in the series, "Rogue Herries", was published 'in 1930, and Hugh Walpole reckoned that "it was the most important book of my life so far". The three sequels, "Judith Paris", "The Fortress" and "Vanessa", followed annually, and each one was duly showered with critical accolades.
Following the completion of the Herries Chronicles Walpole planned to enlarge it with the addition of four more novels. The plan was to begin with an Elizabethan Herries, and then continue the family saga up to the start of "Rogue Herries". In his diaries, Hugh Walpole even planned six later novels which would continue the history beyond the 1930s.
In reality, he wrote the first in the new series, which was published in 1940 under the title "The Bright Pavilions", but only managed to complete half of the next novel, "Katherine Christian", before his untimely death.
Hugh Walpole died in 1941, and his grave is in St John’s Church, Keswick. It is marked by a Celtic Cross, at the corner of the terrace on the south side of the church (and is signposted) - there are seats on the terrace for you to sit and enjoy one of the finest views of the hills around.
St John's Church was designed by Anthony Salvin, and constructed from pink sandstone from quarries in the Eden Valley. The site for the Church was chosen by the founder, John Marshall, who died before building was started, but the project continued, and his remains are interred below the centre aisle of the nave. It was consecrated on St John's Day, December 27th 1838.
The building, in the Old English style, originally comprised the west tower and spire, and what is now the central nave and vestry. The son of the founder decided to enlarge the building, and in 1862 a north aisle was added, and columns were introduced to support the roof, so that the walls and windows could be moved outwards - 20 years later, the south aisle was added, and in 1889 the chancel was created.
Beneath Heather under the Canon next to Hugh Walpole's gravestone is a date - transpose as follows:
DD MM YYYY
AB CD EFGH
Final Co-ords: N54 35.HGD W003 08.EDF
Onfr bs srapr cbfg.
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum