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Commemorative bench unveiled during walk on the history of land girls in Redisham

PUBLISHED: 14:04 17 July 2017 | UPDATED: 15:22 17 July 2017

The commemorative bench in Redisham churchyard, Pictured is former land girl Angela Ottaway, seated, centre, and John Ford, chairman of the Adrian Bell Society, standing, right. Picture: Netta Swallow.

The commemorative bench in Redisham churchyard, Pictured is former land girl Angela Ottaway, seated, centre, and John Ford, chairman of the Adrian Bell Society, standing, right. Picture: Netta Swallow.

Archant

The first of a series of summer walks exploring art, literature, history and the landscape has been held by Waveney and Blyth Arts.

Former land girl, Angela Ottaway, aged 91, reading a poem in Redisham Church. Picture: Netta Swallow. Former land girl, Angela Ottaway, aged 91, reading a poem in Redisham Church. Picture: Netta Swallow.

Organised by Netta Swallow and local historian Chris Reeve, the walk focused on the village of Redisham where the celebrated Suffolk author Adrian Bell farmed during the Second World War.

The walk was inspired by a book of poems written by land girls, belonging to Ms Swallow’s mother - a former land girl herself.

Bell had been provided with girls to work at Brick Kiln Farm by the War Agricultural Committee, in the period when most men were engaged in combat overseas. The book was edited by Vita Sackville-West, novelist and poet, who was linked with the Bloomsbury group of writers .

The tour on Sunday, July 9, led by Ivan Crane, commenced from Redisham Hall, and followed tracks over farmland, passing Redisham Old Vicarage, occupied by Bell between 1938 and 1943.

In the parish church, Ms Swallow introduced the speakers, and poems written by land girls were read by former land girl Angela Ottaway, aged 91, and poet, Oonagh Segrave-Daly.

Mr Reeve described the work undertaken by the girls on Bell’s farm, working with two Italian prisoners-of-war, and a conscientious objector. Later, they were annoyed to read Bell’s disparaging remarks about them in his book, The Budding Morrow, published in 1946.

The talk included anecdotes about Duncan Grant and ‘Bunny’ Garnett, Bloomsbury conscientious objectors employed on an orchard at Wissett near Halesworth in 1916. Visitors also enjoyed a display of photos and memorabilia, organised by Ms Swallow, relating to the land girls’ war activities.

To link in with the occasion, John Ford, chairman of the Adrian Bell Society, and committee members had arranged the installation of a bench in the churchyard.

The commemorative plaque says ‘In memory of Adrian Bell, 1901 - 1980: An outstanding Suffolk writer’.

The group then walked back to Redisham Hall where they enjoyed tea and cakes in the courtyard garden in the sun.

The walks are organised each year by volunteers from Waveney and Blyth Arts. For more information visit their website at www.waveneyandblytharts.com

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