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£1 Million Scheme For Rupert Brooke Birthplace 

There could soon be two new corners of Rugby that will be forever Rupert Brooke.

An ambitious scheme is on the drawing board to buy the house where he was born, and convert it to a birthplace trust for visitors.

The scheme could cost £1 million, to be raised with a lottery bid, commercial support and money from landfill tax levied on local quarrying companies.

And the old indoor market, off Castle Street, is being converted to a pub that will bear the name of the war poet, famous for The Sonnets. One of which The Solider, is well-known for its opening lines:Rupert Brooke

“If I Should Die, Think Only This of Me, 

That There’s Some Corner of a foreign field

That is forever England…”

The new birthplace house, (not being called a museum) would feature radio-controlled headsets, and use still and aniamatronics models. Few artefacts exist belonging to the Brooke family, although some are in possession of Rugby School.

Each room in the house would cover a subject: school days, his time at Cambridge, war days, death scene, a replica of the grave on Skyros and the Lover’s Room which would tell the story of the poet’s confused sexuality.

Rupert was born in the house at 5 Hillmorton Road, close to Rugby School, and lived there for about four years.

His father was a master at the school and Rupert was a pupil ahead of going to Cambridge, which was the focus some of his later poems.

Robin Richter, town centre manger of Rugby said:

“This is all at an early stage. We shall probably be launching this in September and then asking the people of Rugby in October if they support the scheme

"We do not yet know if would be able to raise all the money and we would not want to raise people’s hopes at this stage. There is still some work to do.”

An application will be made to the lottery board for cash, which could match pound-for-pound the money raised in the town.

An unusual form of fundraising could come from the landfill tax, where money for the infilling of local quarries (perhaps including Rugby Cement and another at Lawford Heath) can be diverted from central government to a local good cause.

For Brookeophiles on the tourist trail, there is a statue that stands in Jubilee Gardens, Regent Street (site of the old outdoor baths) which was unveiled in 1988 by Mary Archer. The scheme was put together by a local group to celebrate the centenary of Brooke’s birth.

The Archer family live in the Old Vicarage in Grantchester, that Brooke wrote about. There is a small museum at that site.

There is a limited number of opportunities for Rugby visitors to catch up on the history of the poet who died in 1915. He was buried in an olive grove on the Aegean island of Skyros.

There is the cross taken from the grave, and now planted in Rugby’s Clifton Road cemetery. 

And there is his mother’s home in Bilton Road, which bears a heritage blue plaque, where Brooke polished off some of his work from 1909.

The first anniversary of the Rupert Brooke Society is approaching. Its chairman is the radio DJ Mike Read, who is planning to make a film on Brooke’s life, and president is the former Rugby doctor and councillor Peter Miller, who was the figurehead for the centenary association.

Their gathering will be held at Rugby School on 12 August. It will be followed by a tour of Brooke sites in the town. They will also be told more of the plans for the birthplace house.

A new stopping off point for Brooke tourists could be the pub bearing the name of the solider, which is nearing completion.

While many drinkers complain about the loss of traditional pub names, the newest pub in Rugby will take a trip down memory lane and is named after the war poet.

The old indoor market closed last year and although other licensees were against the scheme. The site has been redeveloped by the Wetherspoons chain whose reputation is for cheap beer and music-free pubs.

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CWN / Heritage / People / Rupert Brooke / 28 Jul 00

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