Setting for most popular poem in English



(Above image is a capture of St Giles Church, Stoke Poges)

Today, we visited the church and churchyard at Stoke Poges, a village located about 25 miles west of London. This churchyard was the inspiration for the poem Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray (1716-1771).The first few verses of the subject poem are provided below.

1
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
2The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
3The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
4And leaves the world to darkness and to me.


5Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
6And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
7Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
8And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;


9Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower
10The moping owl does to the moon complain
11Of such, as wandering near her secret bower,
12Molest her ancient solitary reign.


13Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
14Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
15Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
16The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.


17The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
18The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed,
19The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
20No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.


21For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
22Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
23No children run to lisp their sire's return,
24Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.


25Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
26Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke;
27How jocund did they drive their team afield!
28How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!


29Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
30Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
31Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile,
32The short and simple annals of the poor.
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Thomas Gray memorial in Stoke Poges 
 
Within sight of the church is Stoke Park, now a luxury hotel and golf course but with historic links
with the U.S.A. via the Penn family who gave their name to the state of Pennsylvania via their 26.0m
acre estate which was purchased by the young U.S.A. government. The funds from the U.S.A. were
applied to build the Stoke Park mansion and mould the surrounding landscape.
Stoke Park
 
Stoke Poges has a history dating back about 1300 years, to Saxon times with the current church containing 
elements of Saxon era architecture.in common with many such churches in England, St Giles was originally
used for Catholic worship but has been part of the Church of England (protestant) since the mid 16th century.
Inside St Giles Church

Adjacent to the church is a very elaborate memorial garden which incorporates an exceptional Italian
garden.
Memorial Garden
Video clip of Italian Garden
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