VISIT | When Trees Become People at Walford | Herefordshire
Lives Live Long In The Trees of Walford
The charming Avenue of Remembrance at Walford
Designed to support family and loved ones and to honour the remembrance rather than the service
Something worth thinking on
"...Remembering the Remembrance..."
There seemed to be plenty of people out at Walford on Sunday. Some just popping out for a stroll. Some cranking the gears on their bikes on a circuit around the roads of south Herefordshire. Some distracting themselves for an hour or two with a stop in at the church. Each to their own. With a jaunty wave and a distant hello, we ambled by.
iWe were there for a reason at the old church at Walford. It s kept in wonderful condition and seemingly always open for a moment of thought perhaps or something more for the soul.
Walford church is signalled by its thought-provoking war memorial with its standing knight of St George with shield, the saint perhaps saluting the way. It is what lies beyond that we were there to see.
Life and living is to be celebrated these days. After the many months of difficulty, of worry and of concern. Simple signs of life mean a little more perhaps.
And of course - trees are wonderful. If only they could talk to us. Tell us the stories of their lives, the witness to history.
At the entrance to St Michael and All Angels church at Walford, past the war memorial, creep through the entrance and find yourself under the canopies of a dozen or so lime trees. Tall and resplendent. A couple missing. A couple mis-shaped. But standing still, most of them. They have been there a few years mind - since the 1920s. And these are not just trees. This is an avenue - the memorial avenue of Walford.
To be honest, you would probably miss the detail of them. Unless you take the time to see past the dappled moss boulder which sits at the head of the avenue near the lych gate built for a different time and meaning.
Avenue of Remembrance it reads.
And then to see the individual stones marked not just with names, but dates and places.
H. W. SYMONDS
MARNE 30 MAY 1918
C. C. HUSBANDS
MENIN 21 SEP 1917
The places known only to those who know their Great War history - Gommecourt of the Somme, Arras in France, Alexandria in Egypt, Suvla Bay of Gallipoli, St Omer...
For who else these days would know of Menin in Belgium and of its gate who remember each night the loss made between 1914 and 1918? Of the Battle of the Marne in '14 and '18 when the allied forces returned four years later after the final final great offensive?
But in an avenue of trees lined with the stones of remembrance for the fallen of Walford, these stones give us a little history lesson for those with half a moment and a curiosity. And of course these trees. Each tree a man and each man a loss. So these trees are symbols of life and of love.
And here they stand in quiet contemplation. They watch as walkers wander by. They see the people of Walford come by. They stand as witness. Some century later.
NB For those who are intrigued by these memorials, the church and its churchyard offer up other personal farewells to those who lost their lives to war. From the stained glass window and fallen cross to the Butt brothers, to Grenadier Arthur Hawker, to Lionel Collins, to Levi Reece... but the one that stands out is the tree to H. W. Symonds. For no more than six feet away is grave to his mother and father who died decades later in the 1940s. But never forgotten, their son Harold William killed in France aged 21 remembered on their headstone. Such is remembrance and love. For Harold's death was not known and his body never identified, a private listed as dying between the 30th May and the 7th June 1918 and remembered for ever more on the Soissons Memorial in France. And of course, here at Howle Hill and Walford.
MAP AND DIRECTIONS |
Find the church at Walford on the junction of a minor road where the main road B4234 through the village of Walford turns a corner heading either in to Ross-on-Wye or out towards Kerne Bridge and the Forest of Dean with its war memorial at its entrance