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Duke's Grave


Algernon Seymour, 15th Duke of Somerset

Algernon St. Maur, later Seymour, 15th Duke of Somerset, etc. (22 July 1846 – Maiden Bradley, 22 October 1923) was the son of Algernon St. Maur, 14th Duke of Somerset and Horatia Morler. He was also a baronet.

On September 5, 1877, he married Susan Margaret Richards Mackinnon, the ninth daughter of Charles Mackinnon of Corriechatachan. Because St. Maur did not have any children, his titles passed to his nearest relative, Edward Seymour.

He served in the Navy on HMS Britannia as a youth, but later joined the 60th Rifles and took part in the Wolseley Expedition of 1870. He was a tall and athletic man, of powerful build. After leaving the Regular Army, he spent several years ranching in Western America. On accession to the Dukedom in 1894, he voted often in the House of Lords, although he seldom spoke there. He became president of Dr Barnardo’s Homes, a charity which both he and the Duchess had supported for many years. Wikipedia  / pic 

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"He died s.p. 22 October 1923 at Maiden Bradley and was buried there 25 October at Brimble Hill Clump aged 77. Will proved £684,923 gross, £289,960 net. His widow, who was a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, died 30 January 1936 and was buried 4 February at Brimble Hill." - Ancestry.com (requires membership) NOTE: Brimble Hill was called Bremelhil brech in 1407, meaning seems to be Bramble Hill. (see Dukes Walk)

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Duke of Somerset is a title in the peerage of England that has been created several times. Derived from Somerset, it is particularly associated with two families; the Beauforts who held the title from the creation of 1448 and the Seymours, from the creation of 1547 and in whose name the title is still held. Learn more






INTRO





The duke (d. 1922) and the duchess (d. 1936) were buried on Brimble Hill nearby their residence at Bradley hall, located on the edge of the historic and sleepy village of Maiden Bradley, West Wiltshire. Their graves are marked by standing stones on the south west of the wooded hilltop with a view across Bradley Park towards Long Knoll, with Little Knoll visible to the left. The burial site is next to a stand of taller trees in Brimble's clump.


Since the establishment of the graves a metal fence squares around this secluded lonely site. From the base of Brimble Hill and across the adjacent valley floor you would not suspect they were there at all. I imagine the forward planning that went into their location. Brimble (bramble) is a splendid local tump (rounded hill). Any season, but especially when skirted with golden barley, or bright yellow rapeseed, it is a lovely sight to behold.

The wooded crown was accessed along tractor tracks which made for an easy and non-intrusive walk through the waist high cereal crop. Once over the skimpy wire fence, which divides the arable approach and the little clump (wood) at the top, a legion of shoulder length nettles were found to be guarding the monument which was clearly visible just a few yards away.

Having scouted around the edge of the grave site and taken a few establishing shots with a digital pocket Kodak camera it was time to brave even more tall nettles inside the perimeter fence (which had to be carefully climbed over as the gate was rusted shut). Time passed and each stone was photographed individually with close-ups of two plaques; one on the Duke's large rough tombstone and another on a smaller stone nearby.

By comparing the pictures below it seems one stone (second largest, opposite main stone) is a later addition; for there are five stones in total now. Perhaps when the Duchess joined her husband the extra rock was placed. There may be personal symbolism in the ground plan and scales of the site. Certainly we have the original primary feature flanked by two smaller stones; perhaps these are markers for each grave and the largest stone is their symbolic unification. and/or, perchance the two small flanking stones indicate a symbolic heavenly passageway via the main monument. The small stone with plaque discretely tucked away (see first image, foreground) seems a general sentiment which underwrote a future burial pact made, in the living years, by the adventurous couple (the duchess died 14 years after her husband in 1936) and also served to romance the primary stone. Maybe this is the reason for the later addition of a fifth stone, which symbolically faces the primary massive. As far as can be gauged, if there was a fifth stone it would have been in plain view in the first photo below. One would hardly leave such an important feature out of shot, surely? However, this may indeed be the case. Maybe a good view of Long Knoll in the background was the priority (compare first three images below and decide). The word "perplexing" comes to mind.

After the photo session was complete, I was pondering the main stone in the wood's variegated light and shade. Apart from shafts and pools of illumination the thick summer tree canopy darkened most of the interior. This was when The Guardian flew close by to check on the precocious intruder. So, be warned, this place is owl haunted. The bird's flight was silent as the grave. It landed on a nearby low branch. When I looked again it was gone.





IMAGES WITH NOTES
(click pics to enlarge /
overlapping on a small screen? try 1024 x 768 pixels)



BEFORE AND AFTER The first image shows the graves without the later metal fence enclosure and may have been taken in early spring before the tree canopy and undergrowth took over as we see in the second and subsequent images. Only four stones.

1

source: Jim Downes (date unknown)


























MAPS . . .


4

White circles mark Brimble Hill and, in close up, the grave site location.
5





GETTING THERE . . .

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"...an easy and non-intrusive walk through the waist high cereal crop."

"The wooded crown was accessed along tractor tracks."
Facing north west. Just inside clump, to right of taller trees is duke's wild graveyard.



9
Looking back, having reached the clump's edge.

To the left our view disappears over Rodmead Hill, near to where the gliders swarm from. To the right we have one half of Little Knoll (where wild garlic is the word). At the photo's apex is an almost full July Rose Moon.





ENTERING THE ZONE . . .


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Never seen a latch like it. A nice object though, but irritatingly  locked by rust.

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No worries for this little fellow.





THE STONES . . .


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"Discretely romancing the primary stone."




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A later arrival on the scene?







THE PLAQUES . . .

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IN LOVING MEMORY OF
ALGERNON XV
DUKE OF SOMERSET
BORN 22nd JULY DIED 22nd OCT. 1923
AND OF
SUSAN
DUCHESS OF SOMERSET
HIS WIFE
BORN 11th JAN. 1853 DIED 3Oth JAN. 1936
"THEY THAT SLEEP IN JESUS SHALL GOD BRING WITH HIM."



The final benediction is a popular redaction of:

1 THESSALONIANS 4:14-18 (New King James Version)

14 "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus."



















MEDITATIONS ON A FUTURE PAST . . .



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Bradley House. The Church of All Saints is to the left. There is private access from the house grounds via the graveyard, which is traditionally the Seymour family burial ground.


VIEW FROM THE START . . .














In the first image below (2) we are looking south-west and see the main stone plus what appears to be a more recent addition in the foreground. In the second image below (3) we can judge the spatial relationship between three stones. By comparing this with the first image (1) we decide if a stone was missing, or simply out of shot.

2

3
John Potts 28-07-12 (this author/date applies to all relevant photos below)
















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Brimble Hill from the west.

In the background on the left we can see Brimsdown Hill rising to Duke's Clump (which some locally and with affection call "Bluebell Wood"; a woody annex of Bidcombe Wood ). To the right, Bidcombe Hill slides on down the valley to Cold Kitchen Hill overlooking Kingston Deveril on the lovely River Wylye (the latter finding its rising at the foot of White Sheet Downs, behind the camera operator's back a mile or so south of Long Knoll. Interestingly, the Wylye is logically mapped as finding its rising between Rodmead Farm and Combe Barn Farm as drainage from White Sheet -- the Village of Kilmington nearby claims this honour. But that's another story. [Entry to the clump was up from the trees on the right, along the tractor track in pic-2.]

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Late afternoon shadows section a fruitful land.

The other half of Little Knoll (left) leads our eye onto the easterly end of Long Knoll (a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest: SSSI).




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Oh, an unusual latch on that elegant gate.


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Looking out after climbing in.






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"Pondering main stone in the wood's variegated light and shade."



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Face off.








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HOME IS THE SAILOR
HOME FROM THE SEA
AND THE HUNTER
HOME FROM THE HILL


BOTH Robert Louis Stevenson and AE Houseman wrote poems containing this secondary epitaph; which came first is a mystery to me):

REQUIEM
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.


HOME IS THE SAILOR
by A.E. Housman

Home is the sailor, home from sea:
Her far-borne canvas furled
The ship pours shining on the quay
The plunder of the world.

Home is the hunter from the hill:
Fast in the boundless snare
All flesh lies taken at his will
And every fowl of air.

'Tis evening on the moorland free,
The starlit wave is still:
Home is the sailor from the sea,
The hunter from the hill.





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"...a future burial pact made, in the living years..."

Here we view Brimble Hill from the grounds of Bradley House. Having made the creative decision to eschew the church graveyard next door and be buried instead in a wild place, the adventurous couple would, no doubt, have meditated on that reality to come. Perhaps viewing the scene from this very same place on occasion.





23
Finally, a long shot of Brimble Hill, facing north. Definitely the best viewing angle for this lovely landscape feature. It must be said, however, that all of the angles (sort of like that Mount Fuji print series), as they unfold along the base of Little Knoll, are quite splendid. As the weather and the seasons endlessly change, this wooded hill is a magical sight to see. Jewel in the crown.