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Former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion backs calls for memorial to Morning Has Broken writer Eleanor Farjeon

PUBLISHED: 17:00 19 November 2013

Eleanor Farjeon's former home in Perrin's Walk. Picture: Polly Hancock

Eleanor Farjeon's former home in Perrin's Walk. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion has backed calls for a memorial to the celebrated writer of the hymn Morning Has Broken, amid fears her former Hampstead home could be lost.

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Poet, playwright and children’s author Eleanor Farjeon lived in Perrin’s Walk from the 1920s until her death in 1965, during which time she penned the famous hymn and other works including Kings and Queens and The Glass Slipper.

A planning application seeking to demolish her former home was rejected by Camden Council in 2007 following a community campaign to preserve it.

But the cottage again faces an uncertain future because it has fallen into a state of disrepair and was recently sold to a housing developer for £2million.

A campaign has been started to erect a plaque somewhere else in Hampstead because the house is no longer seen as a fitting or permanent memorial.

Sir Andrew Motion after he received his Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II at an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Place, London.Sir Andrew Motion after he received his Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II at an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Place, London.

It has won the backing of Sir Andrew, 60, who told the Ham&High: “Eleanor Farjeon’s achievement as a writer was a considerable one, and her place in the history of early 20th century English writing is also considerable – not least because of her friendship with [war poet] Edward Thomas.

“She most certainly deserves to be remembered; in Hampstead in particular, as well as the wide world.”

Anne Harvey, the executor of Ms Farjeon’s will, is leading the calls for a new memorial.

Mrs Harvey, who edited a new selection of her poems published in April, entitled Like Sorrow Or A Tune, has met The Heath and Hampstead Society to discuss the idea.

She said: “We can’t save the house, but the meeting was about how there can be some kind of memorial officially to Eleanor.”

Literary figures who visited Ms Farjeon at her cottage included English poet Walter de la Mare, American poet Robert Frost and Hampstead Theatre founder James Roose-Evans. “Many famous people visited Eleanor there,” Mrs Harvey added.

Cllr Linda Chung, who represents Hampstead Town ward, said: “The recognition that she received in her time is very significant and this is the sort of material that we need to retain to make sure she is not forgotten.

“I hope that whoever develops [the house] will do a beautiful design and think about commemorating her in some way.”

The Heath and Hampstead Society has spoken to Mrs Harvey about a memorial but did not wish to comment further.

A Camden Council spokesman said: “As a council we would consider any requests for a memorial in line with the policy, particularly if it relates to a local person.”

A spokesman for developer LPC Living said: “LPC Living, acting as development consultants, are in the process of carrying out detailed assessments of the site which will include a heritage analysis.

“The information about Eleanor Farjeon will be of interest in relation to this analysis.

“We will undertake a process of engagement once we have decided how to progress.”


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