Tag Archive: birdsong


skylark‘A soft wind stirs a ripple on the lake;

A water-hen calls once, then hides away.

The silver birch tree’s branches gently sway,

And on the water gay reflections make

Of merry multitudes of dancing leaves

Which rustle in the wind. And now on high

A single swallow from the south soars by.

Beside the woodland’s edge the warm earth heaves

With new life bursting forth. Each bush and tree

Now greener grows, as if with real desire

To help the nesting birds, and to conspire

With them to make concealment quite complete,

While waves of rippling song are flowing free

From skylarks rising from the growing wheat.’

John (Jack) Kett

from ‘A Late Lark Singing’ (Minerva Press, 1997)

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IMG_7828 After a stroll through Estrela Gardens in Lisbon we found  our way to somewhere new to us – the English Cemetery just over the road. What a discovery- a quiet, green and fascinating space where a wide range of graves and monuments records the long association of the English with Portugal. The website of the Anglican Church in Lisbon describes it’s past:

‘Part of the Treaty of 1654 negotiated between Cromwell and King João IV of Portugal stipulated that English subjects living in Portugal should have a plot allotted to them “fit for the burial of their dead” in the Lisbon area. Due to opposition from the Inquisition, nothing was done about this until the early eighteenth century and it was only in 1717 that Consul Poyntz was able to report back to London that he had leased a suitable plot near the City “for the burial of our dead”. It became known as St. George’s Cemetery. From those early beginnings until the present day non- Roman Catholic British Nationals have had a traditional privilege of burial at St. George’s; practising Roman Catholics are now also admitted.  

It is an historic site for many reasons and an interesting one too. Probably the most famous British person buried there is the novelist Henry Fielding; he came to Lisbon to try and recover from health problems but actually died on 8th October 1754. No-one knows exactly where he was buried, but a monument to him in the form of a raised tomb was erected by public subscription in 1830. Later on in the Peninsular War Portuguese soldiers acting under orders from Marshal Beresford forced open the door in order to inter the remains of Brigadier General Coleman; legend has it that many other British soldiers were buried there during this period but have no marked graves. From the twentieth century there are rows of Commonwealth War Graves, commemorating servicemen who happened to die in the Lisbon area during World War II. These are but three examples, a wander round confirms that the remains of many interesting people from all walks of life and different nationalities have been interred at St. George’s for almost three hundred years.

In the second half of the nineteenth century many trees and shrubs were planted in the cemetery, some of which survive to this day. It makes it a peaceful, verdant spot, a walled oasis covering several acres in the middle of Portugal’s busy capital.’

Here is my record of our visit in late October 2013.

 

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