The bee hill of Shotover
A hotspot for bees as writer Hugh Warwick portrays in his “The Beauty in the Beast” Read
The twin wooded chalk hills of Wittenham Clumps near Oxford, site of an Iron Age hilltop fort, were made famous by Paul Nash, who painted the hill and the beeches at its summit on numerous ocaassions.
From Roger Deakins Wildwood:
Ronald Blythe had told me how Paul and his artist brother John used to go and stay at Sinodun House, Wallingford, with their Aunt Gussie, who had been engaged to Edward Lear. Paul discovered in the Clumps the element of timelessness and mystery that elevated them beyond their purely physical presence in the wide, otherwise level landscape. He wrote that they ‘eclipsed the impression of all the early landscapes I knew … They were the pyramids of my small world.’ Against this deeply English
Nash describe the site as “a beautiful legendary country haunted by old gods long forgotten”.
Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote in 1879 one of his most acclaimed poems, Binsley Poplars, about a group of poplars in Binsley overlooking the Thames which had been felled that year.
As Simon Barnes points out the poem ‘”is a conservation anthem written before anyone knew what conservation was”.
The full text reads:
My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,
All felled, felled, are all felled;
Of a fresh and following folded rank
Not spared, not one
That dandled a sandalled
Shadow that swam or sank
On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank.
O if we but knew what we do
When we delve or hew—
Hack and rack the growing green!
Since country is so tender
To touch, her being so slender,
That, like this sleek and seeing ball
But a prick will make no eye at all,
Where we, even where we mean
To mend her we end her,
When we hew or delve:
After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve
Strokes of havoc unselve
The sweet especial scene,
Rural scene, a rural scene,
Sweet especial rural scene