Aldworth is a prime example of a fascinating English village. In a tiny hamlet, who would expect to find giants, the ashes of the author of, ‘We will remember them’, one of the best pubs in the country and links with masochism?
Aldworth is an attractive village, which has a remote, but homely feeling. Situated on the chalk downs, close to the ancient trackway of the Ridgeway, it stands at the top of a steep road above Streatley and the Thames Valley. The buildings are mostly constructed of flint, red tile and brick, but timber-framed and thatched cottages add variety. The Bell Inn overlooks the small village green, on which stands the village well, now covered over for safety, as the shaft is 372 feet deep.
The small church of St. Mary’s is fascinating. Dating partly from the 13th century, it contains the ‘Aldworth Giants’, a startling array of huge effigies of knights said to be life-sized, but they are all over seven feet tall. The figures represent Sir Philip de la Beche and eight of his relatives, some lying and some leaning on one elbow. The De La Beche family were powerful landowners and knights in the 14th century. In the churchyard is a slate memorial to Laurence Binyon, whose ashes were scattered here. Robert Laurence Binyon was the author of the poem, ‘For the Fallen’, which is used as a world-wide symbol of remembrance of those who have died in war. The most famous verse is:-
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Binyon worked for the Red Cross as a medical orderly on the Western Front. He lived at Westridge Green, near Aldworth, until his death in 1943. His daughter, Helen Binyon, the artist, who died in 1979, is buried next to his memorial. The village’s own war dead are remembered by a wooden cross brought from France. In the churchyard are the remains of a yew tree, which is thought to be over one thousand years old. The tree was blown down in the January 1976 storm.
In St. Mary’s churchyard is also the grave of Baroness Eva Erisso, mother of Marianne Faithfull, the singer and songwriter. Her mother was the great niece of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the Austrian 19th century nobleman, author of the novel, ‘Venus in Furs’, who gave his name to masochism.