Meeting place of Owen, Sassoon and Graves in Edinburgh marked with commemorative plaque
A historic literature meeting between three First World War poets has been marked with the unveiling of a plaque near Baberton Golf Club in Edinburgh.
The golf club meeting venue of Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves was confirmed earlier this year by locally born historian Neil McLennan, now a senior lecture at the University of Aberdeen.
The plaque, designed by him to replicate the themes of War Poets Corner at Westminster Abbey, records the meeting at Baberton Golf Club exactly 100 years ago. The plaque was made and donated by local company Specialized Signs. It was unveiled by Edinburgh Lord Provost, Councillor Frank Ross, Neil McLennan and local residents. The plaque contains some of the words of Wilfred Owen who died in the last week of the First World War: “My subject is War and the pity of War. The poetry is in the pity.”
Lord Provost, Councillor Frank Ross, said: “The commemorative events organised by Wilfred Owen’s Edinburgh Committee have given him, after 100 years, the honour he always deserved from the city. This plaque shows how proud Edinburgh is of our history, our veterans, of Owen and our literature links.”
Chair of Wilfred Owen’s Edinburgh, Neil McLennan, said: “The evidence confirming the venue of the war poets’ meeting was hidden in an archive in Southern Illinois University. Not only was my search worldwide but the find is important in world history, English literature and of course of great local interest. When Owen, Sassoon and Graves met here they would have talked about the war and poetry. Owen’s famous war poem Dulce Et Decorum Est was drafted again just after this influential meeting. Baberton Golf Club in Juniper Green can now be seen as an important site in history and also the formation of English literature. The plaque Specialized Signs have produced marks this event and also takes inspiration from war poets corner in London and the reverend remembrance associated with it.”
Graham Sim, Managing Director of Specialized Signs, said: “Since launching the company in June 2009 we have built the business up to being the leading signage company in Edinburgh serving all areas of the United Kingdom. As a local company we like to help local groups where possible so therefore it is a great pleasure to be able to help with this plaque, which means so much too so many people and marks such a significant event for Edinburgh.”
Baberton Golf Club captain Alan Goodman said: “We were excited to learn that this historic meeting took place in our clubhouse and led to such an important collaboration between three of Britain’s greatest war poets.”
Local resident Anna Bostock said: “We were amazed and delighted to know that such a historic event took place right here in Baberton and Juniper Green. It certainly helps to put this village on the historical map.”
On the evening of the plaque being unveiled three violins, made in commemoration of the war poets, were played together for the first time. The Wilfred Owen violin was made from a branch of a tree within the grounds of Craiglockhart (in 1917 a War Hospital and now the home of Edinburgh Napier University), where the poet recovered from shell shock in the war hospital. Made by Edinburgh luather Steve Burnett, he has also made a Siegfried Sassoon violin and now has made the Robert Graves violin. They played together for the first time after the plaque had been unveiled. Later that evening, following a lecture at Baberton Golf Club, the three played together in public for the first time. Players Thoren Ferguson, Liam Kelly and Steve Burnett hope these violins continue to act as ambassadors and symbols of peace 100 years after ‘the war to end all wars’.
Photos show copyright of Jane Barlow PA