What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
Stoke Poges Church, Bucks
=How to get there.=–Train from Paddington. Great Western Rly. =Nearest Station.=–Slough (2-1/2 miles from Stoke Poges). =Distance from London.=–21-1/4 miles. =Average Time.=–Varies between 3/4 to 1 hour.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 3s. 0d. 2s. 0d. 1s. 6d. Return 5s. 0d. 3s. 6d. ...
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–Windsor–"White Hart Hotel," “Castle Hotel,” “Bridge House Hotel,” etc. =Alternative Route.=–Train from Waterloo to Windsor, 3 miles from Stoke Poges. London and South-Western Railway.
“The curfew tolls the knell of parting day” has immortalised the otherwise unimportant district of Stoke Poges–a parish embracing numerous small hamlets.
Leaving Slough by the north end of the railway bridge, one turns first to the right and then to the left, and soon after leaving the uninteresting bricks and mortar of the town, one enters some of the most beautiful lanes in the home counties. At the first cross road one turns to the right, and again through an open gate to the left, and thence a field path leads to the churchyard.
The little church, which is always open, has walls of old red brick and flint, with patches of rough plaster. It is wonderfully picturesque, with its partial covering of ivy and beautiful background of fine old trees, and no one can view the scene at sunset without recalling Gray’s immortal Elegy written in a Country Churchyard–those exquisite verses which breathe in every line the peace of an ideal country scene. To a lover of Nature there can be nothing more beautiful than the lines–
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight, And all the air a solemn stillness holds; Save where the beetle wheels his drony flight, And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds.
Near the east wall of the church is the red brick tomb where Gray sleeps his last sleep, and in the meadow by the chancel window stands the huge cenotaph raised to his memory by John Penn. Of the little cottage where he spent his summer vacations and wrote the Elegy nothing now remains. Gray was born in London in 1716, and died at Cambridge in 1771.
The interior of the church has lost its high old pews and galleries, so that it lacks the interest it might have had, for until these were removed the building was almost exactly what Gray knew so well.
[Illustration: Mackenzie Fine Art Co. STOKE POGES CHURCHYARD.
Associated with Gray’s Elegy.]