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.’
‘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 firstname.lastname@example.orgThis 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 email@example.com 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.
‘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.
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?’