Stanley Spencer ‘found’ at Cookham

Radio 4’s Any Questions? comes from Cookham tonight which reminds us that the Cookham Festival starts today and runs to Bank Holiday Monday 4 May.

The Sunday service on Radio 4 is coming live from Cookham Church this weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of Stanley Spencer’s death.

Canon David Winter who is preaching at the service has been wondering where the artist was buried. He could not find anyone who remembered although the funeral was of course in the church.

The answer has been found just in time. Yes, Stanley Spencer is buried in the churchyard he depicted in his painting The Resurrection. But he was cremated so it is his ashes which lie there.

I claim (page 103) that he is buried just to the left of the Thames Path which runs through the churchyard. David Winter says that the ashes are “probably under the present memorial stone”.

The summer exhibition at the Stanley Spencer Gallery opens next Wednesday.

The Times founder lived at Teddington

Today’s Good Friday edition of The Times has a report on a plaque unveiled at Teddington marking the site where the newspaper’s founder John Walter lived in retirement from 1795 until his death in 1812.

I was unaware of this important part of Teddington’s heritage. Sadly the house was pulled down in 1923.

It’s interesting that Walter set up his logographic printing presses at Printing House Square overlooking Puddle Dock at Blackfriars and went upstream in retirement.

See page 62.

Southwark Cathedral on television

One of the features of the River Thames are the church towers which downstream are aids to shipping and upstream landmarks on the Thames Path. St Sampson’s in Cricklade can be seen far away.

The Thames Path passes the Southwark Cathedral gateway and Easter Day’s  Choral Eucharist  is being broadcast from there live on BBC1 at 10am.

The Sunday morning service is always crowded. A third of the congregation is local and rest made up of regulars from across the city and visitors.

The celebrant this Sunday is the Bishop of Southwark Tom Butler whose voice is familiar on radio and the preacher is the Dean Colin Slee who always holds one’s attention.

The broadcast should allow viewers to enjoy the service but I hope the pictures will give a chance to appreciate the architecture.

The refectory in the north courtyard is also a good stop for walkers.

See page  31

Kate Ashbrook’s 25th anniversary

Henley-on-Thames’ many unique assets include the offices of the Open Spaces Society in Bell Street. Its general secretary Kate Ashbrook has always defended the rights of way along both sides of the nearby Thames.

But Kate of course has a wider brief keeping watch on paths and commons which may be suddenly fenced off in other parts of the country.

Today she has been in post for 25 years and is now talking about her second 25 years.

Many congratulations on doing such a vital job so well at the OSS and with the Ramblers’ Associaton.

This week Kate said: “Our most important work has been our constant help and encouragement to people fighting to save their commons, greens and paths which are under threat.  It has been a joy to give this assistance and to make a real difference to communities.  It has been a joy too to work with the society’s small but committed, hardworking and loyal staff to achieve these victories.

“The society has always had to run on a shoestring, dependent upon the generosity of its members and on legacies.  Times are tight for everyone, but with us a little goes a long way.  And so I start my next quarter century by calling on people to support our vital work.”