Winds of time blow through Welwyn Garden City in new book

Author of What The Wind Saw, Zoe Jasko.

Author of What The Wind Saw, Zoe Jasko. - Credit: Andrew Mason

A new collection of short stories features tales spanning the history of Welwyn Garden City and its surrounding countryside over the centuries from Roman times to the present day.

When the first national lockdown caused all live events to be cancelled, Zoe Jasko, creative director and co-founder of Hertfordshire opera company Felici Opera, picked up her pen and began writing.

The resulting book, What the Wind Saw: Short Stories from the Heart of Hertfordshire, is inspired by Welwyn Garden City and the countryside around it, and is published this week.

Stories include a visit made by John Bunyan to the cottage on Coleman Green, a blossoming romance at the Ayot Art Show at the Palladian Church in Ayot St Lawrence, a ghost story in the grounds of Hatfield House, an old lady celebrating her 100th birthday remembering the time when Welwyn Garden City was founded, and a coming of age story of a fairy teenage boy as he follows the River Lee from Waterend to Lemsford Mill.

Zoe explained: “It felt like a gift to suddenly have time to write, although I was sad that all my work was cancelled, including the Welwyn Garden Centenary music and performing arts programme that I had been leading.

"Our town, and the nearby countryside, is so beautiful and filled with so much history, that whenever I went out walking, I got lots of ideas for stories about the people who have lived here or who might have lived here.”

The character of the wind narrates the 25 short stories with a prologue and an epilogue as it blows over the villages of Wheathampstead and Ayot St Lawrence, across the fields, lanes and rivers to the towns of Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield and finally the city of St Albans. 

What The Wind Saw by Zoe Jasko.

What The Wind Saw by Zoe Jasko. - Credit: Stephen Hill

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Local artist Stephen Hill, who created the Welwyn Garden City Centenary walk map, worked with Zoe on a map for her book, the illustrations, and the cover.

“It was absolutely brilliant working with Stephen,” Zoe said. “He had so many ideas and the work he produced is just beautiful.

“Now that I’m writing I don’t want to stop. So, I think it will be a question of watch this space!”

What the Wind Saw has a foreword written by Herts Lord-Lieutenant Robert Voss and is published by St Albans publishers The Endless Bookcase, priced £14.95.