Friday, August 17, 2012

Visiting Gilbert


Why yes I did go to Gilbert's house- you may envy me now. Ok maybe not. Gilbert's house is privately owned so there was no walking around the grounds. London has a Chesterton society that schedule several trips (they call them pilgrimages) to his house and grave sight however they were doing these the weekend before and the weekend after I was there. So I had to find these sites on my own which was no easy task. I had to take two subways to the end of the line and then grab a bus. I then missed my stop by two towns. The driver was very kind and gave me a transfer ticket back to  Beaconsfield. I can understand how Gilbert would get lost coming and going.

Once there I wondered around trying to get directions to Gilbert's and Frances' house, I was ill prepared. I thought everyone would know but noooo. The first six people I asked had no idea who I was talking about. I then went into the parish hall of St Mary's Church and still all I got was, "Who?". I finally ran into a lady mopping the floor who knew. It was a short walk away.

As I took the corner of Grove Road I saw a sign, "Chesterton Gardens", it was a dentist office. The next building was his house. I did not stay there long because walking up and down the side walk staring at this house even made me feel creepy. 

I did have a beer at The Royal Standard Pub which I am sure was a place where Gilbert graced more than once.  I wish I had more time to wonder around the town but the buses do not run late.

Interesting that, aside from the circle plaque on GKC's house there is nothing in this town that says Chesterton was ever there. Even several of the web sites dedicated to Beconsfield don't mention him yet there is a larger than life statue of Sherlock Holms on Baker Street which draws more photo taking visitors than the Globe. Like the Rocky statue in Philly

One source of pride came from reading the London Chesterton Societies page where I came across this:
The American Chesterton Society
This must be the world’s most successful Chesterton organization, and is to no small extent responsible for the fact that Chesterton is taken very much more seriously in the U.S. than in the land of his birth. In its present form the society is the creation of Dale Ahlquist, whose larger than life personality is reflected by this extrovert all-singing all-dancing website.

4 comments:

A Secular Franciscan said...

Yes, I do envy you now.

Inkling said...

Lewis is more popular in the U.S. than the U.K. My Chesterton books sell much better via Amazon US than Amazon UK. On the other hand, my William Morris books, even with their Tolkien links, sell better in the UK than here.

In part, that's because, although Chesterton was sounding an alarm about the danger Germany posed to the peace of Europe before Churchill, he died in 1936, when appeasement still reigned. He wasn't around in 1939 like Churchill to say, "I told you so."

--Michael W. Perry, editor Chesterton on War and Peace

John said...

Alan,

Several years ago I ran into the same problems. I managed to find Chesterton's church by asking at a store, the priest was not in, but somebody there managed to point me towards the Chesterton's house and I found it the long way. I never found the cemetery. I will visit there again.

John

Spencer Roundtree said...

I went to England with my wife and daughter last May and on one of the days there made a pilgrimage to Beaconsfield. My wife's great grandfather had immigrated to Texas from Hillingdon in the 1870s and she wanted to see it. From Hillingdon we took the train to Uxbridge and went from the depot to the bus stop for Beaconsfield. It was along wait, more then 30 minutes, and we got to talking with an old lady that was also waiting for the same bus. She was in her 80s and was going to visit her sister just beyond Beaconsfield. We learned that she had lived here whole life in that area. She was familiar with Hillingdon and told my wife lots of stories about that town and knew some of her family, but she wasn't familiar with GKC ( imagine ).
She seemed to be a bit concerned about us not knowing exactly where we were going. I finally told here the graveyard we were looking for was on Shepard's Lane. Well, she knew exactly where that was because a woman that did house work for her sister had rented a house on Shepard's Lane. She told us too stay close to her on the bus and she would tell us where to get off.
That is exactly what she did. When the bus arrived at the stop she pointed up the road and told us where our road was, a couple do hundred feet away as we got off. We realized if it hadn't been for her assistance we would have knocked about the area for hours and probably never would have found it. God bless her! I think of her as an angel sent for our deliverance.
After visiting the Chesterton's gravesite, we had lunch back on the main thoroughfare (Alyesbury End) at a pub called the Tree House. I used their Internet connection to find out the location of Top Meadow. Imagine my surprise and delight when I realized it was only a couple of blocks away. Top Meadow and the Chesterton's gravesite is less then a half mile apart!
What could have very easily turned into a disastrous day was delightful and one of the real high points of our trip.
I consider it a miracle that should be given serious consideration in the canonization proceedings for GK and Frances Chesterton!