The Sylvia Townsend Warner Society in 2010

2010 marks the tenth anniversary of the inauguration of the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society which came into being on 14 January 2000. Our first decade has been an exciting and busy one, with meetings twice a year, two Newsletters every year and the annual Journal. It is interesting also to recall just how many visits and activities we have undertaken in that time.

We have often visited places which have an association with STW or with her particular circle, such as Frankfort Manor and Winterton in Norfolk, Aldeburgh and Lavenhamin Suffolk. People have generously welcomed us into their fascinating homes – The Old Rectory at Litton Cheney, Hilton Hall in Cambridgeshire, Humphrey Stone’s house in Wiltshire, Ronald Blythe’s home in Wormingfold, Suffolk, and Idbury Manor, the former home of Robertson Scott, founder of The Countryman. We have also explored Wells and the surrounding Somerset countryside, described by STW in her book Somerset. Maiden Newton and East Chaldon with the surrounding walks have also been often visited by the Society, as has the churchyard with the memorial stone to STW and VA.

We have also enjoyed several fascinating lectures by our members on aspects of STW’s work, such as The Elfin Stories, Lolly Willowes, The Corner That Held Them, also on political ideas in her writings, and MI5’s surveillance of her and VA in the 1930s and 1940s. Several of us also attended a Colloquium in Cambridge in 2006 where academics talked of their work on STW.

We have not forgotten STW’s music, which was a very big part of her life, and members attended a concert in Chaldon Church in 2003 and a concert of her works and her settings of her poems at St Anne’s College, Oxford, in 2008. It was at this event that we were able to meet several members for the first time.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the Society’s events in the past decade, but it gives a flavour of the sort of activities which several Society members have enjoyed over the years. The Society’s gatherings are always good-humoured, with convivial company, stimulating discussion and often very good food! Our next weekend gathering will be from 30 April to 2 May 2010 in Dorset. We would be delighted to welcome all our members, old and new, to join in our activities during our next ten years!

The Norfolk Green bus named ‘Sylvia Townsend Warner’ which Society members travelled on during our visit to Norfolk in September 2009.