Landscape that charged poet’s imagination

Mount Zion, Mytholmroyd, towering over Ted Hughes's birthplace
Mount Zion, Mytholmroyd, towering over Ted Hughes's birthplace

Todmorden Antiquarians enjoyed an audio visual presentation on “Ted Hughes and the Calderdale Landscape”

For the past decade since Ted Hughes death in 1998, Nick Wilding has built up film clip and interview archives concerning the poet’s inspiration from our landscape.

Ted Hughes was Poet Laureate from 1984 until he died. His books “Remains of Elmet” (1979) and “Elmet” (1994) contain many poignant memories.

Donald Crossley, a well known artist, lived near Teddy Hughes in Aspinall Street, Mytholmroyd, in the 1930s.

The valley landscape has changed drastically in the last 80 years, gone is the industrialisation.

Ted was born to William and Edith Hughes. His father had survived WWI. The imposing canalside Mount Zion Methodist Chapel faced the Hughes’ house. Children respected the day of the Lord then. Ted enjoyed Sunday School, besides it was an important social centre for neighbourliness and a meeting place for kids.

The house lay below fields and moors. Nearby a small path led to Redacre Woods, a huge magnet for the boys. Brian Seymour and Derek Robertshaw were in their gang.

From early times Ted’s brother Gerald, 10 years his senior, took him on outings such as camping in Redacre.

In the woods there are possible sites mentioned in “The Deadfall” and “The Ancient Briton Lay Under His Rock.”

Ted was fascinated by animals and collecting, and his rapport with nature began. Fishing in the canal was another pastime, becoming Ted’s favourite sport.

Donald renewed his friendship with Ted Hughes when he wrote a congratulatory letter to the Poet Laureate. He still corresponds with Carol, Ted’s widow, and Gerald Hughes, living in Australia. Through communications Donald has established more locations for these inspired notable poems.

Concluding, Nick showed and Donald spoke of Ted’s poem “The Six Young Men”. This photograph was taken before they left to fight, none returned alive. It was taken below Lumb Falls. Ted Hughes set his heart on becoming a poet from 16 years old.

The next meeting of Todmorden Antiquarians will be on Tuesday, February 19, at 7.30 pm in Todmorden Town Hall Court Room when Steve Wood, archaeologist, will speak of “Stanbury, Oxenhope and Haworth.”