When you travel along Bournemouth Road to or from Southampton, you pass on one side Keble Road and on the other Keble Close, in Chandler’s Ford.
Both were called after the Rev. John Keble (1792‒1866), vicar of Hursley from 1836 until his death (and briefly curate there in 1825‒1826).
John Keble was a remarkable man. He won a scholarship to Oxford at the age of 14, was only the second person ever to gain a Double First there, and became a Fellow of Oriel College at the age of 19. He held other appointments at the University, including the professorship of Poetry.
Keble is remembered today principally because of the college that bears his name in Oxford (founded 1870).
In the 19th century he played an important part in the ‘High Church’ Tractarian movement within the Church of England, and two books of poetry, The Christian Year (published 1827) and Lyra innocentium (1846) were widely read and admired.
The hymn ‘Blest are the pure in heart’, still quite widely sung in churches, is based on a poem from The Christian Year.
Keble’s verse 1 is verse 1 of the hymn (see below). His last verse (no.17!) is more or less the same as verse 3 of the hymn, but verses 2 and 4 are not by Keble.
Blest are the pure in heart
For they shall see our God;
The secret of the Lord is theirs,
Their soul is Christ’s abode.
For much more on John Keble, see John Keble – Hymnary.org and Charlotte M. Yonge’s John Keble’s Parishes: a History of Hursley and Otterbourne, 1898.
Footnote: I believe that Keble Road was originally called ‘Park Lane’ after the famous place of that name in London (compare the naming of the nearby Shaftesbury Avenue).
Mike Sedgwick: Charlotte Mary Yonge in Eastleigh
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