Rupert Brooke – English Poet (1887-1915)


Stands the church clock at ten-to-three And is there honey still for tea?

These are the famous final lines of Brooke’s poem, The Old Vicarage – Grantchester, which I included in my novel, Greening of a Heart. I pinned the image I have included here on my Pinterest board (The Art of a Reader) because it made me think of Rupert Brooke and a pot of tea I once had just outside Cambridge at The Orchard, a tea garden where Cambridge students started a tradition in 1897 of having their afternoon tea.

In 1909, a young graduate of King’s College took up residence there at Orchard House. His name was Rupert Brooke and he’d moved out of Cambridge, hoping to escape his hectic social life and to improve his studies. At one point he lived next door at ‘The Old Vicarage’ continuing his bohemian lifestyle. For a time, Brooke was a part of the endlessly fascinating Bloomsbury Group, and where I first met him.  At the out break of the First World War he joined the military and in April, 1915 became ill on board a troop-ship and died at age 27 from blood poisoning.

His most famous lines begin ‘The Soldier,’ words still spoken in military tributes and ceremonies today.

If I should die, think only this of me:

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is forever England


About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her:
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4 Responses to Rupert Brooke – English Poet (1887-1915)

  1. Hugo Haig-Thomas says:

    I was at Cambridge and I remember during the first March I was there, we had a sudden burst of warm sunny weather. With a friend, I punted up the Cam to Grantchester where we had tea (with scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam) in the orchard adjoin the Old Vicarage. Because it was still so early in the year, we were the only ones there. It was one of those afternoons that one never forgets, as long as one lives.

    Can you please tell me more about the pinting showing a young man sitting in a garden and reading a book? In particular, who the artist was?
    If you ever see this note, perhaps you could send the details me by e-mail at .

    Kind regards from
    Hugo Haig-Thomas
    Now living close to Kew Gardens, another world famous beauty spot.

    • I know exactly where you were and it is true, my only visit remains unforgettable. Don’t we wish we could come again to this lovely place and enjoy tea once again? My first novel is set in Burford in the Cotswolds and one of the main characters comes to a Vicarage Garden having been trained at Kew. Greening of a Heart, only available as an e-book on Amazon, incorporated many of the things I experienced on that same trip to Grantchester. I will add information ASAP on the painting. Thanks for leaving this grand note.

      • Hugo Haig-Thomas says:

        How strange that one of the main characters in your first novel was trained at Kew. As it happens, I now live in Kew and visit the Gardens often. My mother worked as a volunteer for Kew Gardens in set up their school visits programme. She was the first non-employee of the Royal Botanic Gardens to receive the annual Golden Medal from Kew. Her ashes are buried under a tree in the Gardens and will be joined by mine and my brother’s when our time comes.

      • I have neglected this blog while involved in writing another on Architecture, preservation, etc. Finding your note means the world about Kew, your mom, you and brother. I have visited Kew on a garden tour in England. Greening of a Heart was partially about that trip. How I wish we could have a pot of tea so I could hear about your life living in Kew. In April I am going to be participating in a blog challenge and have picked the theme, The Glories of Tea with Stepheny Houghtlin.
        COme and join me. Stay well with this terrible virus that is out and running.

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