Stroud and a Hidden Colonial Landscape Number

Chalford and the East India Company

Updated: Jul 7

Chalford has such a labyrinth of weavers’ walks and footpaths –
And on a mid-winter’s day, with plumes of smoke rising from Chalford Bottom
Mistletoe in the trees, light folded in envelopes of cloud,
It’s hard to imagine that this picturesque Cotswold village
Was once hand in glove with the East India Company,
As at Sevill’s Upper Mill,
Now a select residential development,
With the stream, now private and sequestered,
Between houses and a car park.

This landscape was once a fretwork of
‘Scarlet, Crimson, Blue and a variety of other delightful colours’,
A fretwork of profits and prices and exports and wages
And strikes and patterns of trade slumps and booms,
Linking the Thames and Severn Canal and the River Frome –
With the Ganges Valley, Bengal, Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Calcutta, Canton,
And with Robert Clive, Warren Hastings, the Marquess Wellesley,
And with muskets, cannon, Stroud Scarlet, slavery, opium, cotton, coffee and tea:
‘Gloucestershire seems to have had
almost the sole custom of the East India Company’.

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Mocking Birds Don’t Do One Thing Except

We were walking the New York High Line,
The old freight line of lower Manhattan,
On the hottest October day since 1928 –
So Trish took a breather on a bench
Beneath some tangled autumn branches;
A mocking bird immediately began to sing
‘Melodious at the noontide of the day’,
A couple of feet right above her head:
“It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”…
“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing
except make music for us to enjoy.”

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The Black Boy Clock

There you stand, not so much a sentinel, Nor servant, but rather more a slave of time, Obeying the diktat of cog, wheel and pendulum, The mechanics of the hours and minutes, For every second, until the end of time. You have no name; identity obscured By a costume...

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Sapperton Manor and Hidden History

The church in Sapperton is dedicated to St.Kenhelm, A much venerated Anglo-Saxon saint, Whose shrine at Winchcombe Was thus extolled by William of Malmesbury: ‘There was no place in England to where more pilgrims travelled than to Winchcombe on Kenhelm’s feast day’....

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Slavery and a Cotswold Landscape

On re-reading The Country and the City by Raymond Williams It must be thirtyish years since I read this, when my responses were all about William Cobbett, John Clare, enclosure, industrialization, urbanization, the fate of the peasantry and the rise of an urban...

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