The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Head To Head   The Modern Antiquarian   General Discussion Forum Start a topic | Search
The Modern Antiquarian
Alfred Williams: Liddington Hill
963 messages
Select a forum:
nigelswift wrote:
Yes, Jeffries should be given a much higher place amongst British poets IMO. What's a good poet? Someone who says to you - look, here's an account of how YOU feel but haven't quite put your finger on it. Eg. Rhiannon's quote from him - "By the time I had reached the summit I had entirely forgotten the petty circumstances and the annoyances of existence."

Aye, true enough. Richard Jefferies was an extraordinary figure but his friend, Alfred Williams, was in some ways even more extraordinary. Born in 1877 Williams was the fifth of eight children and the son of a carpenter and farmer's daughter.

"His education was poor, despite his mother's efforts. When he was only eight he became a 'half-timer', working part of the day on a farm and the rest at school, and left school altogether three years later to become a farm labourer. This suited his love of the countryside, but, as with many young men in the Swindon area at this time, the prospect of much better pay at the GWR railway factory easily persuaded him to go 'inside' when he was fifteen. Two of his brothers were already employed at the factory, four miles away, and he, too, made the daily walk into town.

"Alfred's heart, though, was always in the countryside and he spent time learning its ways and painting its landscapes. He was also determined to educate himself and in 1897 began reading in earnest, even utilising his dinner hour, to the amusement of his colleagues at the factory. In 1900 he embarked on a four-year English Literature course with Ruskin Hall, Oxford, even learning Latin to aid his studies.

"Fascinated by the country, at one stage he moved to Ranikhet, within sight of Mount Everest and his experiences refuelled his thirst for writing. He even considered settling in India, but returned to South Marston in 1919 - to a life of poverty. Only a grant from the Royal Literary Fund helped him through these difficult times.

"Now almost forgotten as a writer, Alfred still had not lost the taste for all the things he had done before. He continued to write, publishing 'Round about the Upper Thames' and 'Folk Songs of the Upper Thames' and taught himself a new language - Sanskrit.

"The frienship of a hill I know
Above the rising down
Where the balmy southern breezes blow
But a mile or two from town;
The budded broom and heather
Are wedded on its breast,
And I love to wander tither
When the sun is in the West"*

Extract from Liddington Hill published in Songs in Wiltshire, 1909.*


See also wysefool's post at

Reply | with quote
Posted by Littlestone
17th February 2007ce

Messages in this topic: