The Glasbury, Powys-based Village Quire and actor Phil Smith bring their new show Back To The Garden to The Valley Folk Club at The Ivy Bush Hotel, Pontardawe on Friday October 16 (8pm), telling the story of life and hope in the trenches of battle-ravaged France during the Great War from the letters of Corporal William Bevan, soldier and head gardener at Kinsham Court, near Presteigne.
The Quire launched the premiere of the full-length show on Saturday September 26 at St Margaret’s Church in Newton St Margaret’s in Herefordshire. They will perform another show at St Mary’s Church, Pembridge, HR6 9EA at 7.30pm on October 3 – tickets cost £10, from Meryl Griffiths on 01544 340381.
Once at the Front, Bevan corresponded with his employer, Sir John Stanhope Arkwright of Kinsham Court. Bevan’s letters to Sir John are a wonderful blend of horticulture and heroism. He comments on blooms and seedlings that Sir John had sent by post for his inspection, talked about the great plans he has for the new garden at Kinsham Court and then, almost in the same breath, tells of patrols in no man’s land: ‘I was behind one hedge, then a cottage garden, and Fritz behind the other hedge …’, and of how he is ‘slightly gassed’. Bevan is no shrinking violet and would love to be decorated with the Military Cross, but his dearest wish is to return home to all he holds most dear.
Interwoven with Bevan’s story are two other true accounts: that of Vincent Street, who fought and died on the Western Front, and that of William Anderton who, for reasons of conscience, would not fight at all – one war, three men, three such very different experiences. Much was changed by The Great War, the old order of things being swept away during the course of those fateful four years.