The weather is a bit more like it ought to be in November and I am looking forward to visiting Brantwood on Coniston Water at the weekend. I'm going to the Craft Fair and I am hopeful that I make some good sales and contacts. We had a great time last year-so this will be a test of the recession!
It will be poignant for me to be in Brantwood on the 11th November-as I think I have mentioned before that my dad's maternal grandparents and family lived at the Lodge at the foot of the drive there. I have wonderful photos of them outside the cottage and my Great Grandfather Miles Wilkinson was a gardener under Professor John Ruskin and later took over from the Head Gardener and continued to work for Arthur and Lily Severn after Ruskin's death, until his own in 1920.
His son John will be in mind particularly as he was one of the many who gave his life for us during World War 1. He had volunteered with his brothers at the start of war, but had been declared unfit for service because of poor sight. He joined the local volunteer unit and as war progressed he was called up when conditions were relaxed. He went to France in 1917 and was home on leave in February 1918-we know this from his diary (now in Ruskin Museum Coniston) and he had barely returned to the front when he was shot in the head at Vimy Ridge. He ended his life in the field hospital at Wimeraux and lies in the cemetery there (the same cemetery which houses John McCrae-the soldier-poet who wrote "In Flanders Field"). Naturally, the family was devastated and his loss was felt in the Brantwood community. In fact he was honoured by Canon Rawnsley (of National Trust fame), who penned a poem in his honour, read at the memorial service. John was 27 years old,shy, unassuming and quiet. He had a fiance-who is known only to us from the diary as "F"-she lived at the Severn's London home in Warwick Square and was a servant there. One wonders what happened to her and how she took the news-she had visited the family home in Coniston on his last leave-so it was maybe then that they were engaged.His diary entries are brief and simple-but it is quite chilling when the entries cease on 26th March-two days before he was shot. However, the most poignant and disturbing discovery is in the fly leaf of the diary, where in faint pencil he has scrawled "Cheerio".
|John Wilkinson Royal Garrison Artillery Died 30 March 1918|
|Poem written for John by Canon Rawnsley|
|Remembrance ceremony for the fallen of the villageand dedication of the memorial cross in St Andrew's Church Coniston|