Sunday, May 27, 2007

Treading in the footsteps of Richard Jefferies’ Coate

The Richard Jefferies Society and the Jefferies Land Conservation Trust are joining forces with the public on Sunday 3rd June to celebrate places around Coate that the Victorian naturalist and countryside writer highlighted in his books written about 130 years ago.

Guided by Mark Daniel, now in his 80’s and living in Brighton, there will be a walk around Coate Water illustrated by readings from Bevis – a boy’s adventure story based around Jefferies’ old Coate farmhouse and Coate Water. The event starts at 11am, meeting next to the Coate Water Rangers’ centre in the car park at Coate Water.

The tour will end in the gardens of Jefferies’ House and Museum where a picnic is planned at lunchtime. Refreshments will be provided and participants are invited to bring their own snacks.

Marissa & Steve Rouse’s 'Romanska School of World Dance' will put on a creative show for visitors in the garden during the lunch break. 'The Battle of Coate’ is a dance piece dealing with the current development plans at Coate. Characters include the Giant Albion, Richard Jefferies, the Lady of the Lake in her Coate of Water, Councillor Money Bags, Urban Sprawl and Concrete Box.

A new leaflet of the Coate walk has been produced for the occasion funded by the National Lottery’s Awards for All grant. The leaflet (see enclosure) is available at the Coate Water Rangers Centre and at the Jefferies’ Museum.

Mark Daniel, member of the Richard Jefferies Society and author of the leaflet, said:

“I first discovered Bevis when I was about twelve. The story tells of the adventures of two boys for whom the exciting possibilities of their world are just dawning. It is no namby-pamby life either. Adventures include living on an island on Coate Water, mock battles with Coate village lads and swimming, fishing and sailing on the lake. It was a great joy to visit Coate as an adult and find that many of the places mentioned in Jefferies’ books are still there bringing the writing alive to generations of readers. But how much longer will this be the case if Coate is swamped with more development?”

Steve Rouse, member of the Jefferies Land Conservation Trust said:

“I was incensed when I learnt the scale of the building plans next to Coate Water that would destroy a beauty spot that I hold dear. I wanted to use my performing skills to highlight the battle to save Coate. With the help of young dancers, we plan to recount the tale”.

The museum is open to visitors on Sunday from 2-5pm. The event is free and suitable for all ages. Contact Jean Saunders on 01793 783040 for more information.

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