Discover Bedford Park with the Irish poet WB Yeats

Images above: WB Yeats; Yeats’ house in Bedford Park

Jeremy Vine to launch new tour

BBC/Channel 5 presenter Jeremy Vine will launch a smartphone guided walk this weekend, round The Nobel prize winning poet WB Yeats’s inspirational poetry-places in the beautiful 19c Bohemian artist’s-colony where he grew up in Bedford Park.

Organiser Cahal Dallat says the new state-of-the-art visitor experience is a unique way to experience poetry, literary history, and our shared architectural heritage, which he hopes will bring cultural tourists to Chiswick.

Cahal launched the sculpture Enwrought Light by Conrad Shawcross to celebrate Yeats last September. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, himself a poet, unveiled the sculpture, as Irish Heritage musicians Robert Finegan and Tara Viscardi played beautiful, haunting music on saxophone and harp and local school children from Belmont Primary School, ArtsEd and Southfield Primary read Yeats’ poems.

Image above: Enwrought Light, with Rowan Williams on the left and Conrad Shawcross on the right

“Yeats would have loved the technology”

Cahal thinks Yeats would have loved the technology which will enable the current generation to wander around Bedford Park, earbuds in, listening to his poems and hearing about his upbridging and inspitations.

“Yeats never quite embraced the new Victorian type-writing machines as his fellow Abbey-Theatre playwrights Augusta Gregory and JM Synge did, but he did make “wireless” programmes and “gramophone” recordings later in life.

“His Bedford Park Ukrainian neighbour, Stepniak, co-edited Free Russia with composer Lily Voynich, whose father, Cork mathematician, George Boole, invented Boolean algebra on which all our 20th-century IT is based.”

“Yeats himself read (and understood!) Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, perhaps because he’d always been much better at maths and science, when a pupil at Godolphin, than he was at Latin or – surprisingly – English Literature, which he came to dominate in the twentieth century.

“In fact, apart from his dreams of love, and Ireland, Yeats’s great aspiration was to find a “Unity of Being”, between science and the spiritual, between art and reality, between the personal and political, between symbols and systems, so our high-tech combination of Yeats’s words, Ciarán Hinds telling of Yeats’s story and reading of his poems, and images from a range of sources, is the closest one can come to the latest science in the service of education, the arts and our shared literary heritage.”

Image above: Yeats tour available to download onto a range of devices

Inspirational places

The 60-minute guided tour takes the user to the Yeatses’ two homes, where young Willie (the W in W.B) founded the Irish Literary Revival and where he also first encountered unrequited love in the person of socialist revolutionary and British Army captain’s daughter, Maud Gonne.

It takes in the family’s parish church, St Michael & All Angels, whose angels and religious imagery infused the young poet’s imagination; the house of his artist neighbour where he and his siblings learned to dance; and the art school where they discovered the world of arts and crafts.

The tour stops at what was in Yeats’ day a clubhouse (now the Buddhist Vihara) where he first saw the actress Florence Farr and became interested in the world of theatre; and the pub where he drank, the Tabard.

The launch event will be held by the sculpture outside St. Michael & All Angels Church on Saturday 28 January at 11am.

How to use the Yeats app

To explore the Yeats cultural trail using the smartphone app, start at the sculpture Enwought Light, outside St Michael & All Angels Church on the corner of Bath Road and The Avenue.

Click on the information sign’s QR code, and allow your smartphone or tablet to guide you around ten @YeatsBedfordPk poetry-places (or you can pop in and out, pick and choose) with images, short-info talks, and readings of location-specific Yeats poems at each spot by 2022 Oscar- and BAFTA-nominated actor (and project patron and inspiration!) Ciarán Hinds.

W B Yeats Bedford Park Artwork Project

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Interview with Conrad Shawcross, designer of Chiswick’s new sculpture Enwrought Light

See also: Bedford Park – the hotbed of radical free-thinkers

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.