A Glimpse of Cowper’s Rectory

A glimpse of Berkhamsted Rectory is given in the lines Cowper wrote in receiving a portrait of his mother…

“Where once we dwelt, our name is heard no more,
Children not thine have trod my nurs’ry floor;
And where the gard’ner Robin, day by day,
Drew me to school along the public way,
Delighted with my bauble coach, and wrapp’d
In scarlet mantle warm and velvet cap,
‘Tis now become a history little known
That once we call’d the past’ral house our own.”
(Beorcham, Berkhamsted Review, Nov 1947).

Rectory then and now_bk6552

The Rectory, Then and Now, by J.T. Newman

The Gentleman’s Magazine in 1834 (Part II, p.150) was outraged that Berkhamsted’s rector Rev. John Croft had demolished the parsonage-house, the “venerated birthplace of Cowper”, along with the poet’s favourite walnut tree. In a letter vindicating his deeds (described by the Magazine as his “impotent defence”), Croft wrote that the beautiful tree had “agitated his feelings” in the winter storms and he was “alarmed lest some of the lofty and majestic branches might descend upon the roof and involve him in the ruins.”