Meaning “sod, turf” developed from the notion of the “skin” of the earth (compare Old Norse grassvörðr, Danish grønsvær “greensward”).
I first came across the word ‘sward’ in the work of Richard Jefferies (1848-1887) the prolific Victorian author and naturalist. This work was inspired partly by Jefferies’ walks in Tolworth and named after his frequent use of ‘sward’ in his writing.
Richard Jefferies lived in Tolworth from 1877 to 1882 (look out for the blue plaque above number 296 Ewell Road). A book of his essays, Nature Near London, describes what he encountered on his long daily walks through Tolworth and the surrounding
areas. Some of this we are lucky enough to be able still to see today, but much of it is under threat from urban development.
This walk along the central reservation of the A240 Kingston Road, from the Tolworth Roundabout to the border with Surrey, represented in the form of this chapbook, is for those who see this stretch of grass and trees in the middle of the road as the marker for going on an adventure into the countryside, and as a sign of returning home from our journeys.
Lucy Furlong is a writer, poet and walking artist, whose family have lived in Tolworth for generations.
skin of the earth
Published January 2020
Designed by Mel Hetherington
16 printed pages
Print run of 150
Price – £2.60
BUY SWARD (£2.60 + £1.20 P&P)