Woodchester Roman Villa

Boudonus a servant in the Villa Magni Widinis speaks:

‘My family have always been servants to the Great Family whose own ancestors had the villa built in the valley made with stone from the hills around; they were the Great Family before the Dobunni became part of the Roman Empire. My father said as his own father told him that the Roman men were very clever because they left our tribes as they were. In Britain we had our kings, priests and warriors, craftsmen and farmers; we had rich lands feeding our cows, sheep and growing grain. The Roman men left this because they could see it worked and all they had to do was make our noble men willing clients. Only they didn’t like our priests, the druids were too political refusing to acknowledge the divine status of the emperor. You know what happened to them’

‘We gave them tax,- yes that meant our grain-kept the peaceyes kept it because we were too busy scraping up enough grain for ourselves to think of disturbing Roman peace-and our nobility were left alone to enjoy the luxuries of the Roman Empire: lots of wine was the main thing and more skin off our hands working to keep the taxes up. At Villa Magni Widinis the Great Family are the richest here in Dobunnic territory and around them gather all their nobles who live in smaller Roman villas around the vale. My family has always been proud to be servants at Villa Magni Widinis.

It is not just a big house, no the villa is a place where there is industry and where the grain and wool from all the villa estate are sorted and made ready for being sold at the market at Glevum. Through the villa gates you will see there are buildings for pottery, iron working, brewing, baking, carpentry and weaving. They are done by families like mine who live inside the villa walls. It is the shepherds and field labourers who live outside and they are the poorest, but even they have to come to the villa to be paid in grain, beer, salt and wool.

Boudonus a servant in the Villa Magni Widinis speaks:

‘My family have always been servants to the Great Family whose own ancestors had the villa built in the valley made with stone from the hills around; they were the Great Family before the Dobunni became part of the Roman Empire. My father said as his own father told him that the Roman men were very clever because they left our tribes as they were. In Britain we had our kings, priests and warriors, craftsmen and farmers; we had rich lands feeding our cows, sheep and growing grain. The Roman men left this because they could see it worked and all they had to do was make our noble men willing clients. Only they didn't like our priests, the druids were too political refusing to acknowledge the divine status of the emperor. You know what happened to them'

'We gave them tax,- yes that meant our grain-kept the peace-yes kept it because we were too busy scraping up enough grain for ourselves to think of disturbing Roman peace-and our nobility were left alone to enjoy the luxuries of the Roman Empire: lots of wine was the main thing and more skin off our hands working to keep the taxes up. At Villa Magni Widinis the Great Family are the richest here in Dobunnic territory and around them gather all their nobles who live in smaller Roman villas around the vale. My family has always been proud to be servants at Villa Magni Widinis.

It is not just a big house, no the villa is a place where there is industry and where the grain and wool from all the villa estate are sorted and made ready for being sold at the market at Glevum. Through the villa gates you will see there are buildings for pottery, iron working, brewing, baking, carpentry and weaving. They are done by families like mine who live inside the villa walls. It is the shepherds and field labourers who live outside and they are the poorest, but even they have to come to the villa to be paid in grain, beer, salt and wool.

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Take my Hand, I’m a Stranger in Paradise

It’s hard to imagine the orchards of Heathrow,
Abundant as the orchards of Herefordshire,
Down there, by John Betjeman’s hated Slough:
‘Come friendly bombs’;
Hard to imagine windfalls in these
William Blake ‘chartered streets’:
‘One World: One Account’,
‘The future is exciting!
Get ready!’
But I shall be flying over gramp’s
Great War battlefields,
Towards dad’s Chindit warfare,
Via dystopian Dubai airport:
‘Dubai has transformed from a humble fishing village
to one of the most cosmopolitan and innovative cities in the world …
Jump on the metro, catch an amazing view from the world’s tallest building …
shop within The Dubai Mall Metropolis,
take a selfie in front of the famous Dubai Fountain …
All you have to do is get off a plane.’

But what of Kerala?
In the words of Stroud’s Rick Vick:
‘Apparently, a functioning, flourishing and fully communist state’,

It's hard to imagine the orchards of Heathrow,
Abundant as the orchards of Herefordshire,
Down there, by John Betjeman's hated Slough:
'Come friendly bombs';
Hard to imagine windfalls in these
William Blake 'chartered streets':
'One World: One Account',
'The future is exciting!
Get ready!'
But I shall be flying over gramp's
Great War battlefields,
Towards dad's Chindit warfare,
Via dystopian Dubai airport:
'Dubai has transformed from a humble fishing village
to one of the most cosmopolitan and innovative cities in the world ...
Jump on the metro, catch an amazing view from the world's tallest building ...
shop within The Dubai Mall Metropolis,
take a selfie in front of the famous Dubai Fountain ...
All you have to do is get off a plane.'

But what of Kerala?
In the words of Stroud's Rick Vick:
'Apparently, a functioning, flourishing and fully communist state',

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Kindertransport

Remembering

You were a deep mid-winter baby, Harry,
Born in Vienna, the home of art and culture,
Just two years after Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch.

But there was nothing to worry about
In those early years before memory,
When your mum and dad held you in their arms,
In mid-winter afternoon twilight –

Until the Wall Street Crash and depression
Meant the resurgence of fascism,
Militarism, the Third Reich,
Lebensraum, and a Greater Germany,
With a visit to Vienna from Hitler
(The city-birth of his fascism),
After Anschluss in 1938;

Remembering

You were a deep mid-winter baby, Harry,
Born in Vienna, the home of art and culture,
Just two years after Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch.

But there was nothing to worry about
In those early years before memory,
When your mum and dad held you in their arms,
In mid-winter afternoon twilight –

Until the Wall Street Crash and depression
Meant the resurgence of fascism,
Militarism, the Third Reich,
Lebensraum, and a Greater Germany,
With a visit to Vienna from Hitler
(The city-birth of his fascism),
After Anschluss in 1938;

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What Makes People Love History

What makes People love history?
So that it becomes a passion,
Not a subject, nor hobby, nor interest,
Not a diversion, nor a pastime,
But a consuming passion instead.

I started to read the virtual edition
Of the History Workshop Journal,
A compendium of contributors
And historians, who recounted
The reasons, recollections, emotions,
And afternoon madeleine moments,
That all conspired, to conjure forth
A love of the study of the past:
A Passion for History.

I’ve added my own, too;
I wonder which of these apply to you?

For example …

What makes People love history?
So that it becomes a passion,
Not a subject, nor hobby, nor interest,
Not a diversion, nor a pastime,
But a consuming passion instead.

I started to read the virtual edition
Of the History Workshop Journal,
A compendium of contributors
And historians, who recounted
The reasons, recollections, emotions,
And afternoon madeleine moments,
That all conspired, to conjure forth
A love of the study of the past:
A Passion for History.

I’ve added my own, too;
I wonder which of these apply to you?

For example …

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On Seeing The Grave of Sir Fabian Ware at Amberley

On the surface, it all seems quite equal,
The Great War cemeteries and gravestones:
Identical – uniform – symbolic –
Equality of sacrifice in death;

But a different story lies beneath:
Officers: seasoned wood for their coffins,
And lids that were carefully screwed down;
Men and other ranks: had unseasoned wood,
And lids that were brusquely nailed and hammered;

1918 saw the vote given to some women –
But not the canary girls and phossie jaws,
They had to wait another ten years –
But also some five and a half million men:
Only 60% of males had the vote
When war broke out for King and Country.

On the surface, it all seems quite equal,
The Great War cemeteries and gravestones:
Identical – uniform – symbolic -
Equality of sacrifice in death;

But a different story lies beneath:
Officers: seasoned wood for their coffins,
And lids that were carefully screwed down;
Men and other ranks: had unseasoned wood,
And lids that were brusquely nailed and hammered;

1918 saw the vote given to some women –
But not the canary girls and phossie jaws,
They had to wait another ten years -
But also some five and a half million men:
Only 60% of males had the vote
When war broke out for King and Country.

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Harvest Festivals and Changing Times

Times change don’t they?

“Are there no prisons?”
“Are there no workhouses?”
Asked Mr. Scrooge back in the decade
Known as ‘The Hungry Forties”,
When asked to assist with charity,
A charity that was mostly Christian rather than secular.

Times change don’t they?
‘’We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land
And it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand’…
I grew up singing that as a schoolboy,
Not knowing then, that it was a hymnal retort
To Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species
Times change don’t they?

And when I sang that as a schoolboy,
We collected and distributed the fruits of the harvest
To senior citizens in the area,
Many, I suspect, widowed in the Great War,
And our posh head-teacher would not allow
Anything as common as tinned food
To sully the cornucopia in the hall,
Times change don’t they?

Times change don’t they?

“Are there no prisons?”
“Are there no workhouses?”
Asked Mr. Scrooge back in the decade
Known as ‘The Hungry Forties”,
When asked to assist with charity,
A charity that was mostly Christian rather than secular.

Times change don’t they?
‘’We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land
And it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand’…
I grew up singing that as a schoolboy,
Not knowing then, that it was a hymnal retort
To Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species
Times change don’t they?

And when I sang that as a schoolboy,
We collected and distributed the fruits of the harvest
To senior citizens in the area,
Many, I suspect, widowed in the Great War,
And our posh head-teacher would not allow
Anything as common as tinned food
To sully the cornucopia in the hall,
Times change don’t they?

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Oral History and Walking

ONE: DISCOVERY

An invitation to participate in a seminar held by the Oral History Society in September 2017, based on some work from thirteen or so years before, got me thinking about oral history and differing walking practices. Obviously, many people record their walks – but I wanted to seek examples of projects and ideas beyond that admittedly admirable practice.

So I joined the Walking Artists Network and introduced myself with a question: I wondered if any walking artists carried out oral history projects as part of their approach. Some examples follow, but first I thought I might outline my experiences and ideas.

The work which was so well regarded was for www.irespect.net – the website seems a bit creaky now, but my perspective was that the lives of ordinary people were as necessary to any transmission of ‘Heritage’ as the lives of the powerful: a form of ‘Counter-Heritage’, in a way. I also put together a whole series of worksheets and lesson plans for schools. What I/we haven’t done is to walk the streets of Gloucester, using those testimonies and questions for walking and discussion: the great thing about devising questions with testimonies is that it stops those oral testimonies becoming inert. The questions promote engagement – that is especially so, of course, with young people.

ONE: DISCOVERY

An invitation to participate in a seminar held by the Oral History Society in September 2017, based on some work from thirteen or so years before, got me thinking about oral history and differing walking practices. Obviously, many people record their walks - but I wanted to seek examples of projects and ideas beyond that admittedly admirable practice.

So I joined the Walking Artists Network and introduced myself with a question: I wondered if any walking artists carried out oral history projects as part of their approach. Some examples follow, but first I thought I might outline my experiences and ideas.

The work which was so well regarded was for www.irespect.net - the website seems a bit creaky now, but my perspective was that the lives of ordinary people were as necessary to any transmission of ‘Heritage’ as the lives of the powerful: a form of ‘Counter-Heritage’, in a way. I also put together a whole series of worksheets and lesson plans for schools. What I/we haven’t done is to walk the streets of Gloucester, using those testimonies and questions for walking and discussion: the great thing about devising questions with testimonies is that it stops those oral testimonies becoming inert. The questions promote engagement – that is especially so, of course, with young people.

read more

Searching for the Soul of Forest Green Part Two

‘We think place is about space but in fact, it is really about time.’
(Rebecca Solnit)

When I first went in search of the soul of FGR,
I wandered through fields and lanes and hills and hedgerows,
Trying to find FGR’s elusive genius loci,
A topographical version of the soul,
Interwoven with local history,
Only to reach the conclusion that this soul
Might just be found in the imagination,
An invented fey ley line,
Emanating from the Jovial Forester,
Stretching up to The New Lawn Another Way
Down through the old hamlet of Forest Green,
And along the valley to the River Frome,
And thence to the River Severn,
A gateway to a world far beyond the Five Valleys:
In short, a Janus-like conjoining
Of both introspection and extrojection.

But a reading of Tim Barnard’s FGR history:
Something to Shout About
Gave me something to think about,
And grounded me further in time as well as space,

‘We think place is about space but in fact, it is really about time.’
(Rebecca Solnit)

When I first went in search of the soul of FGR,
I wandered through fields and lanes and hills and hedgerows,
Trying to find FGR’s elusive genius loci,
A topographical version of the soul,
Interwoven with local history,
Only to reach the conclusion that this soul
Might just be found in the imagination,
An invented fey ley line,
Emanating from the Jovial Forester,
Stretching up to The New Lawn Another Way
Down through the old hamlet of Forest Green,
And along the valley to the River Frome,
And thence to the River Severn,
A gateway to a world far beyond the Five Valleys:
In short, a Janus-like conjoining
Of both introspection and extrojection.

But a reading of Tim Barnard’s FGR history:
Something to Shout About
Gave me something to think about,
And grounded me further in time as well as space,

read more

History Workshop Journal

This is the official Facebook group for History Workshop Journal and History Workshop Online.

Both the journal and the website emerge from the History Workshop movement. Founded in Britain in the late sixties by the historian Raphael Samuel, the movement advocated “history from below”: history envisioned from the perspective of ordinary people rather than elites…

This is the official Facebook group for History Workshop Journal and History Workshop Online.

Both the journal and the website emerge from the History Workshop movement. Founded in Britain in the late sixties by the historian Raphael Samuel, the movement advocated “history from below”: history envisioned from the perspective of ordinary people rather than elites... read more

Brooklyn and the Slad Brook Conjoined

Brooklyn and the Slad Brook Conjoined Historically and Inter-Textually

I remember so well that day at Wallbridge in Stroud,
Seeing the man whose name I do not know,
Yet with whom I always share the time of day
Whenever our paths cross in the street;
He was leaning on the canal bridge,
Gazing out over the waters,
Beyond the information board
Which portrays Stroud Scarlet,
Stretched out on tenterhooks
In Rodborough Fields;
He was staring at the Cainscross Road,
Where the Slad Brook enters the canal –
In a reverie about the old brewery, I thought –
‘Remembering the smell of the beer?’ I asked;
‘No, I’m just thinking about all of these cars,
Where they all comin’ from, and where they all goin’ to?’

Brooklyn and the Slad Brook Conjoined Historically and Inter-Textually

I remember so well that day at Wallbridge in Stroud,
Seeing the man whose name I do not know,
Yet with whom I always share the time of day
Whenever our paths cross in the street;
He was leaning on the canal bridge,
Gazing out over the waters,
Beyond the information board
Which portrays Stroud Scarlet,
Stretched out on tenterhooks
In Rodborough Fields;
He was staring at the Cainscross Road,
Where the Slad Brook enters the canal -
In a reverie about the old brewery, I thought -
‘Remembering the smell of the beer?’ I asked;
‘No, I’m just thinking about all of these cars,
Where they all comin’ from, and where they all goin’ to?’

read more