The plaque has been placed high onto the front wall
of a terraced house in the street next to ours –
and is, in effect, a terracotta tile,
roughly a foot-and-a half by a foot,
with a raised border, and lettering
and numerals probably executed
by a gravestone mason, who maybe lived there.
The date inscribed is 1872 –
the words, first in English and then in Welsh,
‘Blessed are the meek. Matthew V.v’.
When the railways came in the 1850s
bringing the London-Holyhead line,
the station became an important one.
Chester was a garrison city,
and Ireland always needed pacifying.
Where we live now was developed
to house the families of working class
skilled men and lower middle class clerks
in exclusively rented accommodation,
which makes the plaque a surprise: not its faith,
nor its grave taste, nor its erudition –
the railway junction attracted migrants
over the border from the poverty
of North East Wales – but that mere tenants
should have had the courage to declare their right
to a place in the world. That, on reflection,
was perhaps the point of the Beatitudes,
and whoever it was who crafted them.
'Blessed are the meek. Matthew V.v'BeatitudesChesterIrelandlandlordsLondon-HolyheadNorth East WalesSermon on the Mounttenants