When you were there at the Hopkins Street political chapel,
Or the Archer Street chapel in Soho,
Or listening at the Mulberry Tree in Moorfields,
In those months before the Cato Street Conspiracy,
There, with Robert Wedderburn –
Your rhetoric celebrating atheism,
Denouncing Christian hypocrisy
And espousing armed sedition,
In this, the most revolutionary
Of all the Spencean and political chapels,
Did your mind ever wander madeleine-like,
To the green in Ewen where you taught yourself to read,
And where you taught yourself to write?
(‘I was born May 1st, 1775, in the small and obscure village of Ewen … somewhat more than a mile from the source of the Thames, on the banks of which stream stands the cottage where I was born … I was never in any school … I had to get the very alphabet by catching a letter at a time as best I could from other children, who had learnt them at school … The next grand object I had in view was to acquire the art of penmanship …’)
Part the First
You had been a friend of Thomas Spence,
Since you had first met him in 1804,
It was Spence’s Restorer of Society to its Natural State
That set you on the path to political prose and poetry,
Vernal Equinox Walk
20th March 2019
Around the Arlingham Peninsula
On a map, the Arlingham peninsula is irresistible. Created by a large meander in the Severn estuary, it appears to jut at a rather jaunty (or even phallic) angle toward Newnham and the Forest of Dean. Well endowed with footpaths and history and subject to the tidal forces of the estuary, it seemed the ideal place for an equinox expedition.
It was an early spring day full of skylark song, Lady’s Smock, Celandines, Violets and lambs. We began at Arlingham, pausing at the church of St Mary the Virgin to admire the single hand of its clock, pointing out the hour only. Even today, do we really need another hand to show us the precise minute?
We progressed to the banks of the Severn: to wide estuarine skies and marching pylons. Crumbling WW2 defensive pill boxes sinking into Severn mud marked our route. At the site of the “old passage” we looked for traces of the old way to ford the river to Newnham and discussed the many lives lost to the waters.read more
Remembering Allen Davenport
‘I was born May 1st, 1775, in the small and obscure village of Ewen … somewhat more than a mile from the source of the Thames, on the banks of which stream stands the cottage where I was born … I was never in any school … I had to get the very alphabet by catching a letter at a time as best I could from other children, who had learnt them at school … The next grand object I had in view was to acquire the art of penmanship …’
‘If there were no parks or pleasure grounds, the whole face of the country would present to the eye cornfields, meadows, gardens, plantations of all kinds of fruit trees etc., all to the highest state of cultivation.’
A government spy’s report of Allen’s words after Peterloo: ‘The Yoemanry had murdered our fellow Countrymen but had we in our own Defence shot even one or two of them it would have been called Murder and Rebellion, but [we] will put up with it no longer … we may loose a few lives in the onset yet what is the army compared to the Mass of the Country who are laboring under the yoke of Despotism … these Yoemanry are but few compared with us and it only wants the People to make up their minds as one Man for it is better to Die fighting in the cause of Liberty and freedom than be starved by our Oppressors.’read more
‘Museums make you more aware:
A foothold in time
Make you feel a part of it all’
It’s a right regular education
When you visit Stroud Museum,
To process through the rooms,
On a trek to a prehistoric age:
For here’s a cabinet of curiosities:
Twenty-four exhibits, including
The tooth from an ancient Minchinhampton crocodile,
A coral from Newmarket, Nailsworth,
A Nautilus from Rodborough …
The Paris Situationists’ slogan
‘Underneath the pavements, the beach!’
Is displaced by this vista of the vastness of Time:
‘Over our heads as we walk the Stroudwater valleys,
The limitless ancient ocean!’
Friday 26 April 2019, meet at Uley Church Hall bus stop 9:30
(Bus 65 towards Dursley, leaves Merrywalks at 09:00, alight at Uley Church Hall 9:20)
It’s the First of June 1792, and there are fifty weavers gathered outside John Teakle’s cottage in Uley. He’s been working for cheap rates in the workshops of Nathaniel Lloyd at ‘The Courts’. The weavers insist that Teakle removes his work from the loom, threatening him that his house will be pulled down, and he will be ducked in the pond.read more
1. TBC: May 26th In May 1839, revolution was in the air around Stroud and 5,000 people met on Selsley Common to air support for the Chartist demands for democracy. Radical Stroud will lead a performative walk to remember those times with a walk up to Selsley Hill. Meet at the Kitsch café opposite Ebley Mill on the canal on Sunday May 26th. A stiff walk follows up to the common. Allow yourselves three hours maximum for up and talk and discuss and back down again. Free but numbers limited to 30. Book via Stuart Butler at email@example.comThis event dovetails with the premiere of Day of Hope by John Bassett and the Spaniel in the Works Theatre Company.
2. TBC: May 1st: train to Kemble (9.08); walk to Ewen; talk about the Chartist, Spencean, feminist etc. Allen Davenport in Ewen; then walk back to the source of the Thames and thence to Stroud. Allow six hours for the walk. The Thames rises near Ewen, about fifteen miles from Stroud. And it was Ewen which saw the birth of Allen Davenport in 1775. Allen was the son of a handloom weaver. He taught himself to read and write. He became a Spencean; a biographer of Thomas Spence; an Owenite; a feminist, and a Chartist writer and poet, who is memorialised on the Reformers’ Memorial in Kensal Green. This was thrilling stuff for me to find out about whilst walking along the banks of the infant river … We have a commemorative walk planned from Stroud along the Thames and Seven Canal and the river to Ewen on May 1st: Allen Davenport’s birthdate, btw. We shall bring this radical back to life in his home village, down in this sequestered Tory shire. Free but numbers limited to 30. Book via Stuart Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org more
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.