Poetry of Penwortham

I’m thinking of putting together an article (or short series of articles, depending on the amount of material) on ‘Poetry of Penwortham’. At present the only poet I know to have published a full collection of poetry based in Penwortham is James Flockhart, with De Mowbray, a legend of Penwortham: and other poems (1854). Whilst I know a few members of the Preston Poets Society are based in Penwortham, I haven’t yet come across any poems about the town in the anthologies I have read.

What I’m interested in, and would love to read or listen to, are poems about Penwortham, past and present. I’d also be interested to hear from poets based in Penwortham who write about their home town and the ways it inspires their work.

If anyone can help me out, please get in contact via e-mail at: lornasmithers@tiscali.co.uk

As an example of ‘Poetry of Penwortham,’ this is a copy of ‘Penwortham Bells,’ which was written by a poet called Preston in 1864 and kindly passed on by Heather Crook of The Penwortham Magazine. The setting is St Mary’s Church on Castle Hill.

Penwortham Bells

If I thought aught inanimate ever could borrow
The hopeless regrets that bloom over the mind,
Or th’ created of man feel man’s sapping sorrow,
And suffer and bear, yet be every resigned,
I’d believe that your voice told a tale of dread weakness,
To the uncoming tide as it silently swells,
Of ruth and of wrong, and of madness and meekness,
O! Ye bells of Penwortham, sweet Penwortham bells.

Yet bring the remembrance the golden winged hours,
When hearts beat so lightly and friendships were true;
When the visions of boyhood were wreathed in flowers,
The sweetest of perfume and deepest in hue.
But my heart aches with sadness while fondly recalling
The scenes of the past ‘neath the softest of spells,
For soft are your tones – like an angel’s they’re falling,
O! Ye bells of Penwortham, sweet Penwortham bells.

But few are the years that have passed since ye started
Within my warm breast the warm echoes of song;
Near and dear ones once blessed me, but now broken hearted
I search for their names the cold tombstones among.
Yet still when I listen, my brain the while burning,
To the tale which your music to me alone tells,
I could almost imagine those years were returning,
O! Ye bells of Penwortham, sweet Penwortham bells.

I’ve lived, and I’ve loved, and I know one day dying
I must look my long last upon all I hold dear;
Shall I dread the dim world toward which I am hieing,
As I welcome by bed, I will welcome my bier.
But if their last wish unto mortals be given,
Then instead of distressing and tearful farewells,
May your notes fill my soul, as ’tis borne up to heaven,
O! Ye bells of Penwortham, sweet Penwortham bells.

Preston (1864)

St Mary's ChurchPS. The Penwortham Bells are still rung at St Mary’s Church by the Penwortham Bell Ringers and they can heard practicing on a Thursday evening. It’s well worth going for a listen on a warm summer evening.


3 thoughts on “Poetry of Penwortham

  1. Hi Lorna. a great idea, I am sure there are a few other poems I have relating to Penwortham, as soon as I find them I will send them onto you. Look forward to seeing the book !

    1. Thanks Heather, I’m looking forward to receiving them. I’ve tracked down a couple of books to the Harris, and e-mailed Preston Poets Society to see if they can help out.

  2. Heather Crook

    Hi David

    I don’t know if you have seen this by Lorna Smithers. I thought I would pass it on just in case you haven’t.



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