Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen

Best known as a First World War poet, Owen worked as lay assistant to the Revd. Herbert Wigan in Dunsden Parish near Caversham from 1911-13

Link with the Chilterns

Worked as lay assistant to the Revd. Herbert Wigan in Dunsden Parish near Caversham from 1911 – 1913


18th March 1893


4th November 1918


Wilfred Owen is one of the best known poets from the First World War. His works include Anthem for Doomed YouthThe Sentry and Dulce et Decorum Est.

His father worked on the railways and his family moved from Oswestry, where he was born, to Birkenhead and finally to Shrewsbury in 1906. Having failed to gain entrance to the University of London, on 20th October 1911 he took up the post of Lay Assistant to the Reverend Herbert Wigan of Dunsden Parish, just to the north east of Caversham near Reading.  He remained in this post until 7th February 1913 following a physical and mental breakdown.

During his stay in the Chilterns he had already begun his interest in poetry which he developed considerably when he met Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves in Craiglockhart Hospital in Edinburgh whilst recovering from shell shock in 1917.

He returned to the western front in France to be killed in action on 4th November 1918, only a week before the Armistice.

Further Information

War Poetry Site

Wilfred Owen Association

BBC website on Historic Figures

BBC web pages on Wilfred Owen with audio clip of his poems

Grid Reference


What you can visit

Dunsden Green remains a small settlement in a rural parish only a mile or so to the east of Caversham.

The church and church hall in which he spent his time can be found easily in the village. A trail has been created around the places of significance to Owen in Dunsden, find it here: www.owenindunsden.org

During his time in the Chilterns he lived in the vicarage in Dunsden, now a private residence which is not open to the public although it can be seen from the public road.

Wilfred Owen Walking Trail from Dunsden Green

The trail takes you through the peaceful Oxfordshire village of Dunsden near Reading, and  was produced by the Dunsden Owen Association. The trail is available as an interactive Smartphone app, designed by students of the University of Reading. It is researched and written by Jennifer Leach of Outrider Anthems and narrated by Eryl Price-Davies and Jack Purkis. For those of you who prefer good old-fashioned methods of trailing, there is a paper copy available.

The trail app is available for iPhone and Android. Please download before you arrive in Dunsden.