Fringe Box



Eric Parker: Who He?

Published on: 22 Mar, 2012
Updated on: 22 Mar, 2012

The writer and naturalist Eric Parker at his home 'Feathercombe' at Hambledon.

by Matthew Alexander

Passers-by in Guildford High Street are often puzzled about the copper plaque below the railings at the west end of Holy Trinity Church. It reads “Eric Parker described Guildford as a beautiful city. Let us keep it so.”

Who was Eric Parker? He was a writer and broadcaster with a great love of Surrey. He was born in 1870, not in Surrey but in East Barnet.

Educated at Eton and Oxford, in 1900 he entered journalism and moved to Weybridge two years later. He had always been interested in the outdoor life, and in 1908 published Highways and Byways in Surrey, recounting the places he had encountered on his many walks through the county.

In 1911 Parker moved to Hambledon and became the shooting and countryside editor of The Field.  He showed an active interest in what are now known as ecology and conservation, ahead of his time. He campaigned against docking horses’ tails and gin traps to catch wild animals. He was instrumental in the passing of the Wild Bird Protection Act in 1933.

On the wireless, he made nature broadcasts for schools. Eric Parker continued to publish; A West Surrey Sketchbook in 1913, A Surrey Anthology in 1947 and Surrey Gardens in 1954.

The plaque in Guildford High Street.

He died at Hambledon in 1955. Something of a local celebrity in his day, he is now largely forgotten – except for the plaque on Guildford High Street. He was wrong in one respect, however. Despite having a cathedral, Guildford is a borough, not a city.

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