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Plaque unveiled at Frome Railway Station

A PLAQUE has been  installed at Frome Railway Station commemorating a journey made from Frome to London in 1912 by Leonard Woolf to propose marriage to writer Virginia Stephen. 

The journey to make the proposal, which was initially refused until a change of heart, was the start of one the greatest literary partnerships of the twentieth century.

Virginia Woolf fulfilled her potential and became a writer of ground-breaking modernist literature. Together, the couple created a publishing house  with a list of world class writers. Leonard Woolf became a political editor and journalist whose work included prolific writings on international government, an autobiography, novels and a report which had a profound influence on the Charter of the League of Nations.

Members of the Woolf Plaque Supporters decided something had to be done to mark the place where the journey began – Frome Railway Station. That appeal to get a plaque installed in Frome was successful and the unveiling event has been toasted a success.

Joyce Muirhead from Woolf Plaque Supporters reports, “Thankfully the day was a great success to the huge relief of us all!

“They came Huntingdon, from Bristol, Broadway, Worcestershire, from Cheshire and of course many from London, including Bloomsbury, driving for two, three or four hours across country to honour the memory of a journey made by Leonard Woolf from Frome Railway Station.

“Nicholas Reid gave an accomplished speech mentioning that as manager of many stations on the Heart of Wessex line, Frome is a favourite. He elucidated the history and iconic status of Frome Station, with its unique shed style, within the national rail network.

“He briefly outlined the trials in achieving all necessary permissions to erecting the plaque, despite renewal of franchise, total refurbishment of the station and the worst floods in living memory.

“He hoped that it would encourage passengers, glimpsing the plaque as they journeyed to and from the coast, to stop off and visit Frome.

“Cecil Woolf gave a vivid and lively speech and spoke movingly and affectionately of his uncle and aunt, Leonard and Virginia. He talked of their first meeting, of Leonard’s reaction to her astonishing beauty, of their courtship and of Leonard’s recollections of Frome half a century later. He read from the letter Leonard Woolf wrote from The Rectory at Great Elm, which expressed his turmoil and exhaustion of that day and he went on to speak of their subsequent marriage and the many extraordinary achievements that their partnership produced. He then unveiled the plaque to enthusiastic applause.

“Graham Muirhead, as Chairman of the Woolf Plaque Supporters, the group responsible for raising the funds and organising the event, thanked Cecil Woolf, Nicholas Reid and his colleagues from First Great Western, three successive Mayors and the town council, the donors and the Societies who had contributed so generously and travelled so far for their support.   Finally, he expressed the hope that the plaque would inspire others to set out on their own journeys and to explore this rich vein of literature.”