A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Wednesday, 25 July 2012


Here is St Paul's Church, Rusland, situated somewhere between Lake Windermere and Coniston Water in the southern Lake District. It stands on its own at the foot of extensive woodlands half a mile from the village. It's a tranquil, isolated, beautiful spot.

The author and journalist Arthur Ransome and his second wife Evgenia lie buried in the churchyard. Evgenia was Trotsky's secretary, and Ransome met her while working as a foreign correspondent covering the Russian revolutions of 1917. He had a long love affair with Russia, originally travelling there in 1913 to study Russian folklore. For many years he wrote for the Manchester Guardian, contributing a Country Diary fishing column, but it's for his Swallows And Amazons series of children's books that he's most famous.

View of the Rusland Valley from the churchyard: oak woods, green pastures, scattered hamlets and gently rolling fells — the essence of peaceful, rural England.


Ruth said...

Thank you for sharing this tranquil place, and for the introduction to Ransome and Swallows and Amazons.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I didn't realise he was buried there Robert. He had quite a colourful life didn't he?

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Ruth and Pat, for enjoying the tranquillity with me.

Yes, he had such a colourful life. Dominic knows a lot more about him than me, but I believe, when Ransome was in Russia, it's still shrouded in mystery whether he was a secret agent for the English or the Russians!

Dominic Rivron said...

One of my favourite spots, needless to say. I have a row of pinecones that fell from the tree beside the Ransome grave sitting on a shelf in our living room.

I was very pleased to disciver later that Ransome chose the spot on account of the said tree -as he liked it- and asked the vicar if he could be buried there.

As for his shady espionage activities - I'm not sure. It has been my observation that when it is unclear what someone is upto, then it is often the case that they are not very clear themselves! I could quite imagine a Guardian reader (let alone writer) supporting the Bolsheviks from the sidelines while passing information to British Intelligence without seeing their actions as particularly duplicitous.

I'm reminded of Sherlock Holmes (who lived a fictional life in an era not long prior to Ransomes') in The Empty House:

" You may have read of the remarkable explorations of a Norwegian named Sigerson, but I am sure that it never occurred to you that you were receiving news of your friend. I then passed through Persia, looked in at Mecca, and paid a short but interesting visit to the Khalifa at Khartoum the results of which I have communicated to the Foreign Office."

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for your contribution about Ransome, Dominic. I took a photo of that ancient pine tree next to his grave, but it wasn't good enough to include in the post.

Your assessment of Guardian readers made me chuckle. Are we really that innocent and self-deluded, or is this actually an example of complex political sophistication in a modern world?