Siegfried Sassoon is buried in St Andrews, Mells. It’s a village in Somerset. He didn’t live there, but was an admirer of Ronald Knox, a priest who was buried there before him.
His fascinating life was so interesting to himself that he wrote six volumes of autobiography.
Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry which covers his final twenty-odd years:
‘Separated from his wife in 1945, Sassoon lived in seclusion at Heytesbury in Wiltshire, although he maintained contact with a circle which included E. M. Forster and J. R. Ackerley. One of his closest friends was the young cricketer Dennis Silk. He formed a close friendship with Vivien Hancock, headmistress of Greenways School at Ashton Gifford, which his son George attended. The relationship provoked Hester to make some strong accusations against Vivien Hancock, who responded with the threat of legal action. Sassoon was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1951 New Year Honours. Towards the end of his life, he converted to Roman Catholicism. He had hoped that Ronald Knox, a Roman Catholic priest and writer whom he admired, would instruct him in the faith, but Knox was too ill to do so. The priest Sebastian Moore was chosen to instruct him instead, and Sassoon was admitted to the faith at Downside Abbey, close to his home. He also paid regular visits to the nuns at Stanbrook Abbey, and the abbey press printed commemorative editions of some of his poems. During this time he also became interested in the supernatural, and joined the Ghost Club.
Siegfried Sassoon died one week before his 81st birthday, of stomach cancer, and is buried at St Andrew’s Church, Mells, Somerset, close to Ronald Knox.’
When I took the photo of his grave there was a pennant from an Anglo-Jewish organisation with a Star of David on it. Sassoon was the son of an Iraqi Jewish father and an Anglo-Catholic mother. He and Isaac Rosenberg both qualify as great Anglo-Jewish poets of WW1.
AJEX is the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women.
Photos: Niall McDevitt, Helen Moore and anon.