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The Flagpole at the summit of Ruardean Hill.

Ruardean Hill

"The Flagstaff", Ruardean Hill (Highest Point in the Forest of Dean).

This is how Mrs Nancy Watson-Moore recalled seeing Halley's Comet in 1910 after seeing it again at the flagpole in 1986 (reproduced by kind permission of Mr Brian Moore):

The Forest of Dean is one of the most beautiful parts of Britain. It lies between two world famous rivers, the Severn with its record high-spring tides and its salmon fishing lies to the east; the Wye-also famous for its salmon fishing, and wonderful scenic beauty-lies to the west. It is an area of small towns, villages, farms, woodlands and forest, valleys and hills. The highest hill is Ruardean Hill, well over nine hundred feet about sea level.
Ruardean Woodside is a scattered village situated approximately three quarters of a mile from the top of the hill. The school there was built over a hundred years ago, and is still in good use. It was built of excellent quality stone, locally quarried. The timbers are of high-grade 'Heart of-Forest' Oak.
I attended this school for eight and a half years. The headmaster was the late Mr. Edward Thomas Burton. He was an outstandingly excellent headmaster, with a remarkably devoted staff, every subject was very well taught.
Several months before the comet was due to appear over England, we had had many talks about it, and the universe. The life and work of Professor Edmund Halley - a world famous astronomer, astrologer and navigator was also included in these talks.
There is an old pit mound quite close to the school. This mound was always spoken of as 'The Slad' and the school was always known locally as the 'Slad-School.'
The slad pit had produced good quality coal for a considerable number of years in the nineteenth century, but had been closed for a long while.
The mound was quite a large one, and our headmaster had decided that on the top of it would be a good place to get the best sightings of 'Halley's Comet' when it was nearest to England.
Excitement built up among both scholars and staff for several days, but eventually the 'great day' arrived. We all knew that it had last been sighted seventy-six years previously, and would not be near to Earth again for another seventy six years.
We were told to go straight home and have our tea, and then to come back to school and wait. About half an hour before it was due to appear we left school and scrambled up the gullies of our old slad mound-not an easy task even in daylight, but we all managed the climb and assembled on the top.
It was a beautiful clear night, no clouds to be seen, but hundreds of shining stars. We passed the time chattering or singing, but were silenced shortly before the comet was due to appear.
Mr. Burton placed his silver watch in his waistcoat pocket, and took out his telescope in order to obtain a clearer look of the comet.
Suddenly a hush descended and we were all absolutely silent and spellbound as we watched the comet's approach, and then disappear miles and miles away over the Forest hills, the Welsh mountains and the Bristol channel.

It seemed to approach from far beyond the Malvern hills, we had a perfect view of it streaking horizontally across the horizon, the tail was clearly visible and reminded us of a kite with a long tail.
We had seen many 'shooting-stars' in the past, but never such an important one as 'Halley's Comet.' It was an event that once seen you could never forget.
The following day the older scholars wrote about the event, and drew or painted their impressions, and the younger ones did their pictures with either crayons, chalk or pencils.
The following night my mother wanted to see it. The comet was due to appear again as it orbited our earth, but at a later time and would be farther away . from us.
We were taken up our winding attic stairs, at Herbert Lodge, and crouched around the window, which was facing west, and waiting expectantly.
Herbert Lodge is one of five ancient Forest lodges built three hundred and fifty years ago. The other four Crown-Keepers Lodges were Latimer Lodge, Cinderford-it overlooks the Forest, the Severn, the Cotswolds and Gloucester city-Danby Lodge near Yorkley, Worcester Lodge near Coleford, and York Lodge, Parkend. All the other four lodges are still inhabited today.
We all sat and crouched and waited expectantly for the comet's appearance. Suddenly we saw it approaching far, far away in the distance. It appeared to be bending away from earth and we again saw its tail as it curved away from us.
I have never forgotten our headmaster's words to us on the day after we had seen Halley's Comet from the old slad mound. He said: 'I shall not be alive in seventy-six years time- 1986-but I hope that some of you will be alive then, and will see 'Halley's - Comet' again.'
The top of Ruardean - Hill, near the 'Old Flag Pole' was a good view point when it reappeared this spring.

John Wilkes asked (Aug 2007): "Does anyone know what flag is flying in this picture?"

Thanks to Ian Riddell who added (Oct 2007): "It looks as if the picture may be hand-coloured, in which case the actual colours of the flag may not be the same as shown. flags.net gives the flag as "Signals Flag 4", i.e. the international signal flag for the digit '4'. I'm not sure if this helps!

Thanks also to Maurice Bent who added (Oct 2008): "The folks in the photograph are:  The lady in the white skirt  - Granny Warren,  Flagstaff Cottage, Ruardean Hill, and the man standing by the pond is William Higgins, son of Thomas and Alice Higgins of Ruardean Hill, uncle of Maurice Bent".

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