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Spring Equinox Walk

On Wednesday 20th March 2019, to mark the Spring Equinox, Radical Stroud will carry out a Walk to Circumnavigate the Arlingham Peninsula.
There is much to note, remark on and celebrate on the way –
Estuarine myths and legends; Ivor Gurney [who sailed these waters]; the site of the Old Passage ford [impassable since 1802]; the Bristol Channel floods of 1607 [was it a tsunami?] as well as wide skies and broad vistas.
Meet at 10.00 outside the Red Lion in Arlingham.
Alas, public transport not available
Allow 6 hours for the full circumnavigation. It is possible to shorten the walk in several places. No steep climbs. A few stiles and short stretches on country lanes. Almost certain to be very muddy in p!aces.

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Oakridge Walk February 23rd 2019

‘When vapours rolling down a valley
Made a lonely scene more lonesome’,
Wrote Wordsworth in The Prelude
Well, we weren’t lonely, a group of ten
Walking through early morning mists and fog,
Discussing enclosure of Oakridge common land,
A death-threatening letter for the squire,
Demeaning shouts of ‘Who stole the donkey’s dinner?’
Loud following him on his daily rounds
Past Lilyhorn Farm and Bournes Green.

A watery sun shone vaporous
As we stopped at a spectral crossroads,
Cogitating upon the Roman villa,
Down in the nearby fields of Bakers Farm,
Then processing Neolithic track-ways,
Past a field of sheep and hidden long barrow,
The sun now silvering the streams that run
Down to the Frome and thence to the Severn.

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Thomas Helliker: the Trowbridge Martyr

Prologue

I have previously only known the name Semington from information boards on the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal: a junction with the Kennet and Avon Canal. This is how ‘Heritage’ works: it fixes your view on space and time; it gives the past meaning. But ‘Counter-Heritage’ remembers those who are ignored, forgotten or misrepresented. It gives a different and radical meaning to the past.

Act the First

‘The orthography is irrelevant, madam.
Helliker, Hilliker, Hiliker, Elliker,
The spelling matters not a jot, madam,
Illiteracy does not mask identity,
We know who the shearman’s apprentice was
At Mr Nash’s Littleton Mill,
Semington, 22nd July 1802;
He was there in the riot, tumult and arson;
Mr. Heath says he saw Helliker brandish a pistol
And intimidate the loyal night watchman;
Mr. Heath had previous heard Helliker
Offer thanks and gratitude for the wrecking
Of honest men’s machinery and livelihoods;
And did not Mr. Heath identify Helliker
After the miscreant’s arrest in Trowbridge,
Last August the third?’

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Broadstairs and Charles Dickens: Heritage and Counter-Heritage

‘Charles Dickens never lived here’
Is a standout plaque on a cottage wall,
Down towards the harbour in Broadstairs –
Must take some courage to ironise
The Broadstairs branding of itself …

He first came here in 1837,
The year of Victoria’s accession,
And a year of gathering Chartist momentum,
To lodge in the High Street at number twelve,
To complete the last few monthly numbers
Of Pickwick Papers, and make so much money
That he bought the imposing cliff top house,
Fort House, built some thirty odd years before,
Where he penned his pages of labyrinthine plots,
And Pickwickian old time wistful nostalgia,
And critical observations of modern times:
Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist,
Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop,
Barnaby Rudge, Martin Chuzzlewit,
Dombey and Son, David Copperfield;

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A Wiltshire Town and Peterloo

I travelled on the GWR,
Built not long after the Orator’s death,
Passing through a mill-scape valley
Known well by quondam colleague, William Cobbett,
On past antique ridge and furrow fields,
To Swindon, a town that I am sure
Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt would have admired,
A new industrial work-town,
Full of mechanics and artisans and questioning,
Thence by the 49 bus across the windswept Downs,
Through a leafless Captain Swing landscape
On a Captain Swing late November rain-swept day,
To take my leisure at the Bear in the town square,
Where – against every grain – Henry Hunt took his wife:
‘How this betrothing came about I must now inform my readers, I had often
heard my father speak in very high terms of Miss Halcomb, the daughter of his
old acquaintance, Mr. Wm. Halcomb, who kept the Bear Inn at Devizes, well
known to be one of the very best inns between London and Bath.’

I travelled on the GWR,
Built not long after the Orator’s death,
Passing through a mill-scape valley
Known well by quondam colleague, William Cobbett,
On past antique ridge and furrow fields,
To Swindon, a town that I am sure
Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt would have admired,
A new industrial work-town,
Full of mechanics and artisans and questioning,
Thence by the 49 bus across the windswept Downs,
Through a leafless Captain Swing landscape
On a Captain Swing late November rain-swept day,
To take my leisure at the Bear in the town square,
Where – against every grain – Henry Hunt took his wife:
‘How this betrothing came about I must now inform my readers, I had often
heard my father speak in very high terms of Miss Halcomb, the daughter of his
old acquaintance, Mr. Wm. Halcomb, who kept the Bear Inn at Devizes, well
known to be one of the very best inns between London and Bath.’

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Swinish Multitude

Edmund Burke‘s Statue, Bristol, December 2018

Edmund Burke on the lower orders – ‘ a swinish multitude’

‘Along with its natural protectors and guardians, learning will be cast into the mire, and trodden down under the hoofs of a swinish multitude … ‘

Reflections on the Revolution in France 1790

Edmund Burke ‘s Statue

Paid for by a Bristol tobacco baron,
We look on your works and despair:
You stand there, commanding Bristol’s heights,
Your ancien regime condescension
Masked by this deceptive commemoration:
“I wish to be a member of parliament to have my share
of doing good and resisting evil.”
Far more truthful if the plinth were etched
With this memorialization:
‘I regard all you common people,
Passing me by on your trivial tasks
As nothing more than a swinish multitude.’

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Radical Stroud Terminalia Walk Saturday 23rd February

Terminalia is a one day international festival of walking, space, place and psychogeography on 23rd February. Terminalia is the festival of Terminus, Roman god of boundaries and landmarks.

This year, Radical Stroud are carrying out a circular walk in Oakridge. In honour of Terminus we will visit the site of Oakridge Common. It was enclosed in 1866 against local opposition and we will view the present day boundaries with an eye to the past. In our usual eclectic fashion we will also take in the site of a Roman villa, a long barrow and the crash site of a WW2 German bomber.

Quiet lanes and footpaths and a few styles. A couple of steep climbs. Likely to be muddy. 2-3hours.

Meet at 10.30 at the gate of the

Church of St Bartholomew
Oakridge Lynch
Latitude: 51.7291 / 51°43’44″N
Longitude: -2.1277 / 2°7’39″W
OS Eastings: 391278
OS Northings: 203385
OS Grid: SO912033

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