There’s Some Corner Of An English Churchyard


Kitchen window 1Kitchen window 2

Over breakfast this morning, I photographed two more angles of view through the kitchen window;

Rose Garden

and afterwards, The Rose Garden.


We have many banks of aquilegias.

Rose Compassion

Compassion blooms on the Dead End Path arch,

Bottle Brush Plant

And we have our first bottle brush flower.

Butterfly Painted Lady

A Painted Lady butterfly availed itself of the gravel camouflage.

St Nicholas's Church 1

This afternoon we visited St Nicholas’s church in Brockenhurst. Jackie and Sheila led the way into the exhibition inside;

Jackie examining gravestones

Jackie pausing to inspect the eighteenth century gravestones.

Graveyard St Nicholas's Church 1

I wandered around the beautiful landscaped graveyard, where light glinted through trees and the ground fell away allowing the monuments to ramble down the hillside.

After my following exploration, I joined the ladies inside where a couple of volunteers within were giving them an explanatory history of the World War One burials in the churchyard.

Yew tree

They told Jackie that this yew tree dated from the twelfth century.

Tree stump

This sculptured stump must also have been a substantial giant.

Graveyard St Nicholas's Church 2

Graveyard St Nicholas's Church 3

Past the tree I came to a set of steps and a path leading down to level ground.

Fern sculpture

Flashes of red against clean, cream background suggested I was approaching the memorial symbolised by the sculpture at the entrance to the church. This was a brilliant fern cut out from weathered metal, familiar to anyone familiar with an All Blacks rugby jersey. The brilliance lay in the figures silhouetted in the work. I crouched a bit to ensure that the background grass made this clear.

NZ Memorial 1NZ Memorial 2

Indeed, I had. Ninety three members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force soldiers from World War One lie buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery attached to this church.

Brockenhurst Churchyard Commonwealth War Graves Board

The farming village of Brockenhurst soon became a World War 1 hospital village, from 1914 caring for wounded and sick Indian troops, and from 1916 the No. 1 HQ New Zealand hospital. Those who died therein were buried in this churchyard.

K. Rapona gravestone

Of the 93 New Zealanders, 12 were Maoris, only one of whom died from wounds. This was Private Kiri Rapona. Clare Church’s book, which I bought, gives this young man five more years of life than does this gravestone. One other drowned and the rest succumbed to illness.

Sukha gravestone

One Indian is Sukha.

There are also three unknown Belgian civilians who share a plot.


These plots are very well tended and maintained by New Zealanders in UK.

Balmer Lawn Hotel

Of the three hospitals from those years, the only one still standing is now the Balmer Lawn Hotel, which keeps its own living lawnmowers.

Stained glass 1Stained glass 2

The very friendly couple who were very informative about the church and this particular section of its history, pointed out the Victorian stained glass in the twelfth century stonework of the windows.

This evening Jackie produced succulent chicken Kiev, creamy mashed potato, and crisp carrots and runner beans for our dinner. Sheila’s dessert was rice pudding, and Jackie’s profiteroles. As I had consumed two pieces of chicken I passed on this. But I did drink more of the Fleurie. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Sheila, sparkling water.

It was Rupert Brooke, an Englishman who did die in 1915, who is immortalised by his own verse: ‘And if I should die, think only this of me, that there is some corner of a foreign field that is forever England’. I have adapted his words for today’s title.


  1. There’s so much in this post to ponder Derrick! The juxtaposition of beautiful view from your kitchen window to dead soldiers who lie far from home. [I watched part one of ‘Birdsong’ last night, where the phrase ‘in the trenches’ becomes graphically clear – and was left feeling horrified and disgusted with this need to kill our fellow humans off and make young men suffer so appallingly.]

    The garden view is beautiful, the church windows are sublime. The silver fern is sadly touching. We make something beautiful to commemorate something so atrocious.

      1. I read the linked post Derrick – how wonderful that Jackie was gifted some of those cherished linens. I find I am completely wiped out by watching and reading stories set in war times – WWI is especially horrendous it seems. Apologies for spreading my feelings of frustration through your lovely post.

  2. There’s so many beautiful shots within this post, Derrick. The sculptured stump is incredible…I’ve never seen something like that. I hope you’ll post more shots of the bottle brush flowers as those are new to me and quite unique. Thank you for taking us on a tour of the lovely cemetery.

  3. A thousand thoughts about today’s lovely posting, Derrick. First of all, if I had that view out my kitchen window I’d do nothing but cook and eat! Secondly I love the bright blue granny bonnet (it’s easier to spell than aquilegia) and the bright blue flowers at the base of Rapona’s grave. I have an uncle (WWII) buried in Scotland. A very moving posting… and what an ancient yew tree!

  4. Wonderful post, Derrick. The view from your kitchen window is stunning. Thank you for the history of the church and graveyard. The photo of the graves and your phrase, “where light glinted through trees and the ground fell away allowing the monuments to ramble down the hillside” is beautiful. The 12th century yew is amazing. The tranquility of it all contrasts with the horror of war that the New Zealanders faced. I quoted another English war poet today. I guess it’s a day for remembering and reflecting.

  5. The view out your kitchen window is so marvelous. And then there’s that amazing fern on the memorial and that stained glass window of sunflowers. I’ve never seen sunflowers in a stained glass window.

  6. A really interesting post. Thank you. I wish they would take the poor New Zealand lads home. A Maori, in particular, should not be lying in English soil. He should be with his people. They all should.

  7. Such a beautiful garden, wonderful view from the kitchen. Thank you for all the beautiful photos, it was like being there. The living lawnmower is good:) I had read about that quote and I think it is true about all soldiers across the world at all times. Regards.

  8. First Derrick what a delightful view from your Kitchen window.. So beautiful, and that Church such a beautiful spot.. I often like Jackie spend time viewing the names on headstones, pondering upon their lives way back..
    Many thanks for sharing such lovely images Derrick.. I hope you are enjoying this wonderful Sun we have at last got up here in the East Midlands.. 🙂
    Happy Gardening!

  9. What a moving post! Thanks so much for the history and for all the beautiful photos, including the one from your kitchen window.

  10. Love the pictures of the graveyard – there is so much history and interesting stories there. And the kitchen window view is very lovely Derrick! Thank you for sharing, I hope your day is splendid! 🙂

  11. Sad but proud reminders of what it takes to stay free. Thank you for taking the time to honor them and to bring this site to the rest of us.

  12. A compelling post, Derrick. Very interesting to read about St Nicholas church and churchyard. The metal fern sculpture is so beautiful – tragic that its existence was borne out of such horror and suffering. The church must have been sad to lose a twelfth century yew tree – its stump is still a thing of beauty in itself.

      1. Ah yes! I was evidently so mesmerised by the stump shape I somehow managed to miss that magnificent yew! Thank you for the clarification 🙂

  13. What a beautiful place … and what a touching and informative story. I love the manipulation of Brooke’s words – really the most perfect title for your piece.

  14. Very informative and thank you for posting the atmospheric pictures. I like graveyards and thinking of those who have gone before us. Hard times, uneasy finalities for those gentlemen. Beautiful windows of the church.

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