Guide shows Forster Country is Stevenage’s best kept secret

Forster Country

Forster Country - Credit: Archant

Some of Stevenage’s most cherished green spaces are the subject of a new guide book aimed at preserving them for future generations.

Forster Country

Forster Country - Credit: Archant

Campaign group The Friends of Forster Country has compiled the pamphlet called A Guide To Forster Country which explains the history of the land to the north of Stevenage where author EM Forster once lived, and which was described in his classic novel Howards End as ‘the loveliest in England’.

The book takes us on a tour around the places Forster would have known in the 1880s, including his family home at Rooks Nest cottage which is still a private house and the Grange School which Forster attended.

We visit Holy Trinity Church which is described in Howards End as being ‘roofed with tin’ and the Six Hills, former Roman burial mounds, which feature prominently in the book.

It takes us to St Nicholas Church which Forster went to and out into waymarked paths across open fields towards Graveley and Chesfield along waymarked paths.

E. M. Forster

E. M. Forster - Credit: Archant

The guide describes the importance of EM Forster as a novelist in that he played a key role in helping to preserve and communicate English rural traditions and recognise the benefits of country life.

It is these benefits that the Friends of Forster Country are so keen to protect in their campaign to save Forster Country from being swallowed up by development.

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With local plans soon to be approved which could see new housing developments constructed around Stevenage, the group is fighting hard to ensure the area remains protected as a green lung for Stevenage, linking it to the open fields beyond.

With contributions from key group members, Forster biographer Nicola Beauman, FOFC founder and writer Margaret Ashby, writer, journalist and broadcaster John Pilgrim and former MP Barbara Follet, the book draws on a wide range of knowledge, experience and opinions.

As we are told, EM Forster was passionate about the English countryside and protecting the pastoral values and tradition that he saw as the very backbone of England. It is clear the authors have continued this passion and have made it relevant to modern readers.

Adorned with pictures and illustrations, both historical and modern, the guide reveals a largely hidden genteel and rural side to Stevenage that still exists in the shadow of the new town. Visit www.forstercountry.org.uk to get a copy of the guide.

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