The effects of the First World War were wide and long lasting, not just for those who were directly involved in it, one way or another , but for the architectural heritage of Britain. The deaths of so many sons of the upper class meant that estates that had been run so successfully up to 1914 were plunged into uncertainty. Great mansions were sold off or demolished. A different fate befell one great house and its astonishing gardens in Essex, as some clippings found among the papers of the late Peter Haining, who must have passed the site regularly on his route to and from his Essex home, tell.
Sometimes now known as 'The Psychiatrist of The Ghost Road' W.H.R.Rivers has a formidable reputation and holds a pivotal place in the development of neurophysiology, psychiatry/ psychology and anthropology - but he is probably most widely known for his wartime association with Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves and is featured in Pat Barker's 1995 Booker prize winning novel The Ghost Road. L.R. Reeve* some of whose encounters with famous people we are posting, actually never met him but saw him lecture and, sadly, missed a chance to meet him '…after he had addressed an audience at Cambridge he invited the London contingent to his rooms at St John's College for coffee and discussion. Some of us, I among them, wanted to return by the next train and reluctantly refused. What a chance I missed!' Nevertheless he has a good account of him:
Dr Rivers (1864 - 1922) was one of those rare men who call forth the best generous impulses of anyone with whom they come in contact. No extreme selfish extrovert, no criminal, nobody I should think, could resist his unconscious charm; and he himself, like Harold Nicolson, couldn't hate anybody.
Discovered in the library of descendants of geneticist Dr. Redcliffe Salaman, author of The History and Social Influence of the Potato (1949 ) is the final volume of an Elzevier Press edition of Lucan’s Pharsalia, dated 1671.
It’s fitting that the poem treats of the civil war between Julius Caesar and the forces of the Senate headed by Pompey the Great, because it was found among the rubble of Arras, blitzed by the Germans in 1916, by a soldier, Major Daniel Hopkin, MC, who on returning home to England presented it to Salaman’s son Raphael (then aged about 10 ), who just happened to be one of his private pupils. On further investigation, the friendship between Salaman senior (b 1874) and Hopkin, his junior by 12 years, becomes even more intriguing.
Found - a small thin 4 page pamphlet Angels at Mons printed in Felixstowe, England about 1920. Its price was ninepence for a 100 and it was almost certainly for distribution in churches. Ours was found in a missal.
There is much elsewhere about the angels that are said to have appeared on the WW1 battlefield at Mons. Arthur Machen's 1915 book The Bowmen and Other Legends of War really started the legend.
Historian A.J.P. Taylor was so impressed by the evidence then available that he felt confident referring to Mons, in his 1963 History of the First World War, as the only battle where “supernatural intervention was observed, more or less reliably, on the British side.”
The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural says of Machen's book: "During Machen's lifetime 'The Bowmen' was easily his most influential work of fiction, in ways he never predicted. First published in a 1914 Evening News after the Battle of Mons, it told how British troops, their retreat cut off by the Germans, were miraculously rescued by a ghostly St. George and his bowmen of Agincourt. Widely accepted as true or as a genuine legend, the incident is regularly referred to even today, in books of occult lore and oral histories of the Great War." Fortean Times has this great story of hoaxes and mayhem around the legend with a report on a Hollywood movie that was going to be made on the angels with Marlon Brando.