1856 - 1929
Knight family after 1916
(Marcia Knight seated next to her husband, Fred, daughter Jessie in front, three of her four sons in back; Robert, Harold and Arthur (son John died in the service in 1916)
Marcia Knight was born Elizabeth ("Lizzie") Marcia Bradfield, daughter of Robert Emms and Martha Linsell Bradfield, in 1856 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England. Her father was a Baptist pastor and she had one brother, Charles Luther Bradfield.
She married, at age 22, Arthur Frederick Knight ("Fred" b 1849) who was a boot and shoe manufacturer, a company that he had founded in 1870 at the age of 21.
The Old Rectory - Home of Marcia Knight
They settled in Rushden, Northamptonshire where he built a factory in 1889, and he purchased a home known as the Old Rectory on Little Street in the same year.
The couple had five children between 1880 and 1886: Robert, Jessie, Harold, John and Arthur. John would die while serving in the army in 1916.
Lizzie had several of her poems published in local newspapers and magazines, including The Gentlewoman, The Pall Mall Gazette,The Westminster Gazette and Vanity Fair, using her middle name of Marcia. One of these was a Christmas greetings poem to Queen Alexandra in 1902, the winner of a contest in The Gentlewoman magazine. The poem is as follows:
"A Christmas Greeting to her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Alexandra.
Our hearts, our loyal faith,
These gifts we offer thee,
True English Queen, beloved!
Fair Daughter of the Sea,
May Christmas joy enfold
Thy spirit pure and bright;
God's sunshine gild thy crown
Till dawns Eternal Light."
Marcia's book of poems, Milestones: Songs From an Old House, was self-published in 1911 at Constable and Company, Ltd in London (today Constable & Robinson), when she was 55 years of age. She died in October 1929 at age 73.
by Marcia Knight
The Changing River
The Falling Leaf
Through shadowed arches flowing,
The river slowly glides,
Where long-leaved flowers are growing
And where the Sedge-bird hides.
Under the bridge it passes,
Lapping its prison bars;
When night winds stir the grasses,
It dreams beneath the stars.
Then cold as mountain ridges,
The sullen water lies;
Now gray with dancing midges,
Or singing lullabies.
Lashed into fretful foaming,
Moving with stately swell,
Till in the silent gloaming
It sobs a sad farewell.
Of Pain and Passion preaching,
As water frets the stone,
One lesson ever teaching,
It flows in Peace -- alone!
October with the sweet and wistful eyes,
Majestic in her grace of moulded form,
Now wanders forth in Winter's fair disguise,
While leaves fall fast, a whirling crimson storm.
Clad in a flaming robe with fringes grey,
A yellow garland on her nut-brown hair,
The Empress of the Woods pursues her way,
In light and tender mood strips hedgerows bare.
With languid grace she sways the giant trees,
The fiery gems, as gold and rubies fall;
Girdles and necklets trail upon the breeze
To lie, a tarnished heap, a sombre pall.
Watching with slumbering passion and regret
The shrivelled leaves, — as hopes and aims which die,
October gives her purple amulet
Of vines and heather, as she chants 'Good-bye.'
Roses and a Grave
Clusters of roses softly veil
The crumbling walls and tiles;
Each blossom tells a joyous tale
Of children's laughing wiles.
For here the showers of scented leaves
Were hurled in mimic fight,
And scenes of 'Battle' memory weaves
From out the dusky night.
Grim shadows fall, the place is cold
With ghosts from happy years;
A winsome boy, with hair of gold,
Smiles and forbids my tears.
'Twas here with flowers I crown'd him King—
Gay courtier in his train:—
To-day I stand where lilies swing
Their incense in the rain.
Gaily he 'Answered to the roll'
From alley and from glen;
(Brave Heart! no 'Charge' could daunt his soul
When facing death with men).
And with the fern's soft feathery crests
His birthday wreaths we made;
Yet on his brow no chaplet rests,
While here the roses fade!
No crimson cross is on his grave,
No lilies pure and pale;
But o'er his head wild grasses weave
In lonely, distant vale.
Grief, stay! and mists no longer hide
The gold, the white, the red;
The falling petals, scattered wide,
Are tears upon his bed!
*this appears to be about Marcia's son John who died in the service in 1916
Little Boy Blue is fast asleep,
The cows have stolen his horn,
And straying up the grassy steep,
Have left the sheep forlorn.
The boy is in the Land o' Dreams,
Gone with his Teddy Bear,
His horse and a box of choc'late creams
As rations for the pair.
Little Boy Blue is a soldier bold,
And rides in the Land o' Nod;
He wears a tunic trimmed with gold,
While 'Teddy' forms the squad.
Then suddenly the Captain's tired
(He can be so in dreams),
For, after all, no shots are fired,
And nothing's what it seems!
Little Boy Blue has ceased to fight--
We know it by his smile;
Down the road where the sun is bright
He climbs the meadow stile,
To wander on where violets grow,
Blue as his shining eyes;
Then finds he has so far to go,
He wakes in sweet surprise!
Little Boy Blue, oh, tell me the way
The dream-flowers grow in sleep;
Show me the path you found to-day,
Where long cool grasses sweep.
For we would dream and wake with smiles
To find it all come true--
We who have wandered miles and miles
On dusty roads, Boy Blue!
An Old Garden: A Memory
The Water Lilies
Tall grasses hide the door
In ivy-covered wall,
Near dull grey steps of stone which bore
The marks of Time-- a hidden store
Of memories sweet which evermore
Across the years will call.
The child who loved to stray
With book of fairy lore
In quiet paths, the boy at play,
The huntsman at the dawn of day,
The lovers in the time of May
Will keep their tryst no more.
There down the old stone flight
Of steps with moss o'ergrown,
Once passed the bride with roses white,
The soldier eager for the fight,
The dead, who living, made our light,
And dying left us lone.
The sunsets fiery gold
Makes radiant the sky;
It shines upon the garden old
And visions come like tales re-told
To vanish as the night wind cold
Breathes out a gentle sigh.
Hear the whisper of the rushes
Bending o'er the meadow pool;
Idly wafting airy greetings
To the lilies white and cool.
Tall and debonair the rushes,
Gay and careless, light of mien;
Purest maidens are the lilies
Each a chaste, a snow-white queen.
Listen not! ye dainty maidens,
Hide your secret in your heart;
Cavaliers may whisper sweetly,
Sighing softly, 'We must part'.
Wanton breezes, sun's hot glances
Kiss and woo thee into life;
Heed no whisper of the rushes,
Stars of peace! Love bringeth strife.
Calmly shine as proud white lilies,
Royal maids in robes of green;
Mirrored on the silent river,
Hearts of gold in silver sheen.
This beautiful plate is included in the front pages of Marcia Knight's book. I would guess that it is one of her children, perhaps her son John who died as a young man, but it is not identified in the book.