Latest News

As passionate hosts and historians, we’ll be writing regular articles about the past, present and future events at No.fifty6 and the Somme.

If you would like to know our latest news, as well as our insights into WW1, make sure you bookmark this page or sign up to our newsletter.

September at No.fifty6. Autumn Comes Knocking.

Posted on 30th September 2019 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

September at No.fifty6. Autumn Comes Knocking. Grodek by Georg Trakl, German War Poet.
At evening the woods of autumn are full of the sound
Of the weapons of death, golden fields
And blue lakes, over which the darkening sun
Rolls down; night gathers in
Dying recruits, the animal cries
Of their burst mouths.


103 years ago, The Somme battle raged on for the 3rd month. This September there is peace, there has been lovely sunny weather though the month has ended with rain and breezes. Most crops are in, save some maize and potatoes and chard.
Views of Mametz Wood show the first tinges of autumn colours in the trees. The starlings are gathering and the red squirrels in Newfoundland Park are busy collecting winter provisions. Above all our guests have continued to bring their wonderful stories.

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August News from No.fifty6

Posted on 31st August 2019 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

August News from No.fifty6 Devastation by August Stramm, German War Poet: “The sky is wind and bodies march march on a thousand bootsoles, The sky is wind and bodies advance advance onto a thousand automatics. The sky is wind and bodies crack crack into a thousand fragments.”

103 years ago, the ferocious action of The Somme battle was raging. Today as we write this and look out over golden, harvested fields, blue skies, to the sound of skylarks and blackbirds, it is hard to imagine what once occurred here in this place now so peaceful. Just the crosses, Portland stone and memorials puncturing the landscape like beautiful sentinels of the now peaceful dead.

August has seen more high temperatures, some rain, busy farmers and of course our wonderful guests who bring their stories and share around our table.

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July at No.fifty6 – Record temperatures, personal reflections and harvest time

Posted on 31st July 2019 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

July at No.fifty6 – Record temperatures, personal reflections and harvest time "I hear a voice that grieves for battle’s fruitless harvest." Siegried Sassoon.

The farmers have been harvesting in a month that has been dry, blue skies and very, very hot. Record temperatures with an unprecedented 42 degrees here, too, too hot. The ground is arid and golden. Just before the heatwave last week the farmers toiled night and day to bring in the wheat and barley harvest. There have even been field fires through Picardie as any little spark can ignite the arid crop stalks. An entire field behind Mouquet Farm has been turned to black ash due to a fire.
We have had a busy month, always stories to tell and among the many smiles and much laughter there is sad rabbit news.

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June at No.fifty6 – wild winds, heatwaves, peace remembered and many a story

Posted on 30th June 2019 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

June at No.fifty6 – wild winds, heatwaves, peace remembered and many a story When it is peace, then we may view again
With new won eyes each other's truer form
And wonder. Grown more loving kind and warm
We'll grasp firm hands and laugh at the old pain,
When it is peace. But until peace, the storm,
The darkness and the thunder and the rain.
Charles Hamilton Sorley 1895-1915

The weather has thrown everything at us this month, majestic electrical storms, wild winds, downpours of rain and then the second half of the month – unbroken sunshine and we end the month with a heatwave and record June temperatures. A gentle breeze this week has kept us sane while the rest of France is really suffering but it is too hot to be out for long unshaded.
This month guests have come with their stories to tell, pilgrimages to be made, and we have commemorated the Centenary of the Peace Treaty.
The extract from the poem above – Soldier and War Poet Sorley was killed at the Battle of Loos but his words ring true today as peace is more important than ever.
As you receive this month’s newsletter, ceremonies will be taking place across The Somme to mark the 103rd anniversary of the start of The Battle of The Somme.

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May at No.fifty6 – May has brought many surprises and stories to tell

Posted on 31st May 2019 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

May at No.fifty6 – May has brought many surprises and stories to tell May - “Here, leave desolate, passionate hands to spread
Violets, roses, and laurel with the small sweet twinkling country things
Speaking so wistfully of other Springs
From the little gardens of little places where son or sweetheart was born and bred.
In splendid sleep, with a thousand brothers
To lovers—to mothers
Here, too, lies he:
Under the purple, the green, the red,
It is all young life…” (Charlotte Mew, poet 1869-1928)

May is a capricious month – promises of summer, but hanging on to spring and changeable weather. Spring flowers and rapeseed give way to poppies and wheat. Some hot days, some chilly and wet, now getting more stable with pleasant May weather. May begins and ends with Fete Days in France on 1st May you give friends muguet – lily of the valley, to bring happiness, and the month ends with Ascension Day. It has been an extraordinary month with lots going on, stories to tell, only marred by one sad chicken story.

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