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Event Report: Emma's Plymouth

October 17, 2013

Category: Event Reports | Keywords: 2013 april cremyl edgecumbe emma hoe plymouth tamar

Emma's Plymouth:
28th April 2013

Whilst celebrating the centenary of the wonderful poetry of 1912-13 and with Emma very much in mind, time was opportune to visit Plymouth, where Emma was born in 1840. Despite the rather bleak April morning, we were keen in spirit and eager to walk in the steps of Emma.  Twenty-two of us gathered on Plymouth station concourse and were introduced to Bob Mann, a local member and our knowledgeable guide.  Unfortunately, most properties where Emma lived are no longer there, but we were able to visit her last residence in the town, in Bedford Terrace, an imposing three storey house at the end of a quiet road and where Emma’s grandmother died.  By the art gallery, a short distance from Bedford Terrace, we stopped and read ‘The Marble- Streeted Town’ for at our feet was some original marble, clean and atmospheric.
Emma's Plymouth
 
As we know, Emma’s Christian faith was important to her.  We visited the churches where she worshipped, most notably St. Andrew’s, built in the fifteenth century and the largest parish church in Devon, as well as the seventeenth century church of Charles the Martyr, destroyed by incendiary bombs in the Second World War.  It was eerie to see it in its now disused and ruined state, trapped on a roundabout with all the noise and pollution of to-day’s transport revolving around it.  It was at this church that Emma’s brother played the organ and composed chants.  Emma was clearly from a musical family as her father was an enthusiastic violinist and her mother played the piano and possessed a fine singing voice.

Emma's Plymouth
 
After a hearty lunch in a pub on the Hoe, we took the Cremyll Ferry across the River Tamar to the opposite bank and found ourselves in Cornwall!  Mount Edgecumbe was our destination, a beautiful park, which Emma clearly enjoyed visiting on a number of occasions and where she sketched, which was one of her favourite pastimes.  There is a prizewinning camellia collection in the park and we enjoyed tea in the charming Orangery.

Emma's Plymouth
 
Alas, Hardy never visited Plymouth with Emma and wrote, in March 1913,
                   
To the place-Plymouth Hoe-
Where side by side in life, as planned,
We never were to go! 
 
Hardy Society members were more fortunate; spending such a delightful day in one another’s company.  Warmest and grateful thanks must go to Andrew and Marilyn for their hard work in reconnoitring the walk in the first place, producing such an informative hand-out and organising such a memorable day.  I am sure that I, like many of those who came to Plymouth, will now take Emma far more seriously!
 

Report by Philip Lange

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