War poet's grave to be cleaned up

ITS inscription is barely visible - obscured by moss and lichen.But beneath the weathered gravestone lay the remains of one Britain's greatest war poets.

ITS inscription is barely visible - obscured by moss and lichen.

But beneath the weathered gravestone lay the remains of one Britain's greatest war poets.

Almost three decades ago, in the shadow of the famous Holy Trinity Church at Long Melford, First World War hero Edmund Blunden - famed for his recollections of one of the bloodiest conflicts in human history - was buried close to his Suffolk home.

Now the flat stone memorial to the poet looks set to be restored following concerns voiced by devotees of his work.

Surviving members of Blunden's family have acted to quell the disquiet about the state of the grave and one of his four daughters, Catherine , has told Long Melford Parish Council she is planning to travel from her home in Spain to renovate the stone.

She is planning to return the memorial to its former glory and has applied to the parish council to add an inscription in honour of her mother, and Blunden's third wife, Claire.

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Concerns over the poor state of the grave came to light recently when it was visited by local historian, Peter Wade, of Clare.

Although it is less than 30 years since Blunden's death, Mr Wade was disappointed to find it had become covered in moss and lichen, making it almost impossible to read the inscription.

He felt it was sad the memorial in honour of the heroic soldier, who was awarded a Military Cross for bravery while fighting in the First World War, had deteriorated to such an extent.

The headstone was looked after by Blunden's widow before her death and then his eldest daughter from his first marriage, Clare Ross, 82, who lives in Bury St Edmunds. But Mrs Ross is now unable to look after the stone.

However, the problem now looks certain to be resolved when Catherine visits the cemetery in November.

Long Melford Parish Council clerk Linda Goodban said: “Family members in Spain have contacted us to say they want to come over and clean it up. They also want to add an inscription to their mother.

“As far as we are concerned the matter is now in hand and we are very pleased, considering the recent disquiet.

“Although we recognise the importance of Edmund Blunden it was a difficult situation for us. Graves are a personal matter and we do not have the budget to support cleaning them up.”

Blunden moved to Long Melford with his wife in the1960s and died in the village in 1974.

Some of his better-known work includes the Undertones of War and The Waggoner, based on his accounts of fighting in the Great War.

His name is included among those featured on the War Poets Stone in Westminster Abbey.

Chairman of Long Melford Parish Council, Richard Michette, said: “As far as we are concerned it is good the grave will be looked after. It is nice that one of Long Melford's most famous sons will continue to be remembered.”

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