Just after Christmas 1913 Holst, a keen rambler, took a five-day walk in rural Essex and came across the medieval town of Thaxted. He was enchanted by its timber-framed buildings and cathedral-sized church, quite out of proportion to the small town it overlooked but reflecting its once prosperous status as a leading manufacturer of cutlery. Holst soon found a home to rent in the nearby village of Monk Street; his daughter and biographer, Imogen, later recalled it “was the first time he had known what it felt like to be living in the depths of the country, where everyday things that he had taken for granted became transformed into matters of vital importance”.

Mostly inCheltenham, London, Thaxted
Best known for The Planets, Brook Green Suite,...