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Thursday, 13 March 2014

In memory of Dorset Folklorist, John Symonds Udal who died on this day 13th March 1925

John Symonds Udal's Grave
St. John the Baptist Church, Symondsbury
On this day 13th March 1925, judge, sportsman, antiquarian, collector, essayist and a miscellaneous writer - John Symonds Udal, author of 'Dorsetshire Folklore', died at the age of 76 at his London home in St. John's Wood.  His ashes where brought back to his beloved home of Symondsbury and interred in St. John the Baptist churchyard adjacent to the Manor House where much of the original preparation of his 'Dorsetshire Folklore' had taken place.
by John Symonds Udal

Between two hills of lofty prominence,
A humble village slumbered as it lay;
Nor oft disturbed by curious visitors,
To see its beauties, or to give it praise,
Secure, and free from noise, in peaceful quiet,
It thus had passed through ages unobserved,
The parish church, —  within its hallowed ground
Strewn o’er with mounds to mark the sacred
     dead, —
A cross in shape — upreared a massive tower
Towards the sky's deep vault of azure hue.
Sweet chimes the mossy belfry carolled forth,
To meet the freshness of the wanton air,

While o’er it all there dwelt an innocence,
A gentle calmness of a better world,
That falls on no palatial residence.
‘Twere best to view the scene from Colmer's
     hill : —
One side—the sparkling sea, its rolling waves,
Seething in endless motion on the strand,
Inspires the soul with heartfelt thankfulness .
For God’s great works, by nature's laws ordained.
And far below, the neighbouring town appears,
Decked out in picturesque attractiveness.
The other — distant hills the scene reveals,
Of Pilsdon with its furze and table top;

Poetic Lewesdon, too, whose threatening brow
O’erhangs the village Stoke spread out beneath;
While sunny cornfields, pastures, meadows, all,
Seemed to have found the very place to thrive.
The birds in joyous freedom pass the hours,
Unharmed by man — protected by their God.
So might the golden age have been indeed,

Which Virgil told in rapturous flowing verse;
When all was love, and friendship’s soothing
Had shed eternal peace on all below.
At Colme’s foot the village rectory lies,
Encompassed by the shade of waving trees,
A calm retreat from weary toil; and from
The garden walls, in rich profusion hang,
Thick clusters of the luscious mellow peach,
And ruddy nectarine, with apricot.
The other side the garden’s mossy wall,
There stood an ancient farmhouse, prominent,
Where round the mullioned window’ embrasures
The honeysuckle clasped its pliant arms;
Where on the kitchen floor, overlaid with stone,
Before the cheerful woodfire's glowing heat,
The slow-revolving spit its task performed.
But now, by ruthless time and modern art,
Another structure rises in its place,
And of the old, nought but the walls remain,

Before the porch, a sparkling fountain plays,
Casting its streams of many coloured hues,
To greet in harmony the sun’s bright rays.
Elsewhere, indeed, the scene remains unchanged,
The undulating mead — the shady copse -—
Where both the pheasant and the rabbit lurk,
The fluttering partridge, and the nervous hare.
There from the top of Rybury's verdant slope,
We feel the influence of the sea-born breeze,
That floating o'er the open downs of Eype,
 Infuses strength, and renovates the frame,
Yet must we linger not too long a time
On one sweet place, while many us invite,
But parsing on to other scenes as fairy
Leave Symondsbury to slumber on again.
'Marriage and Other Poems' by John Symonds Udal, 1876

Read more about his life - John Symonds Udal - A Dorset Folklorist

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