What have historians enchanted by the study of Romano-British
history ever bequeathed to us?
And why have they been enchanted?
I suppose it could be the Stockholm Syndrome,
The affection felt by the captive for the captor sort of thing,
Or perhaps we should call it the St Albans Syndrome,
Or the Verulamium Syndrome …
But there’s so much more, I know,
(Or is there?)
Deference, perhaps, or ‘Borrowed status’,
As the sociologists put it,
The cult of the classics in grammar schools,
The dominance of the English public school;
The cult of the nineteenth century amateur,
Antiquarian and archaeologist,
Often a country curate;
The simultaneous growth of the British Empire,
Parallels drawn with Pax Romana,
And the civilizing mission
Of ‘The White Man’s Burden’;
The tantalizing nature of the evidence
Of the Romano-British centuries:
Tangible yet numinous;
Chance finds as the country was industrialised,
New roads, new footings, foundations and factories,
Those rural curates on new railway lines,
The Ozymandian nature of it all:
‘Look on my works, ye Mighty and despair.’
The M.R. James winter ghost story trope,
The feeling that those twilight Celtic gods
Lie just beyond the veil of imagination.
The way that the history fitted in
With a British jigsaw of stereotypes:
England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland,
STROUD COUNTER-HERITAGE WEEKEND FEBRUARY 3rd-4th
The Centre for Science and Art,
10am Doors open
The following events are timetabled, but there are events running throughout the day. Scroll down until you see the heading
EVENTS RUNNING THROUGHOUT THE DAY
10.30: The People History Forgot to Remember: tour of Stroud cemetery with Angela Findlay, artist & cemetery resident
Using poetry, diary extracts and performance to explore attitudes to death from the 1850s onwards, the hidden symbols used in gravestones, the fate of those deemed ‘paupers’ & workhouse life.
Meeting point: Lower Cemetery Lodge, 114 Bisley Road, GL5 1HG, just inside the gates of the cemetery
Tickets available at location – some parts of the walk are not wheelchair accessible, but many parts are.
PEOPLE’S HERITAGE CARD
Introduction and Explanation
We are all used to blue plaque heritage for the rich and famous, but this is a day for the chip plate ordinary people.
Collect a People’s Heritage Card and complete your People’s Heritage Task. Take pictures! Write up an account in any genre!
PEOPLE’S HERITAGE CARD NUMBER ONE
A suburban home means as much a stately home, so …
Put posters in your window: “EVERY HOME A HERITAGE SITE’,
Invite people around and give them a guided tour –
You could even issue tickets and rope off PRIVATE AREAS.
PEOPLE’S HERITAGE CARD NUMBER TWO
Leave counter-heritage notes in envelopes addressed to HERITAGE: THE TRUTH and insert them in the gaps between official plaques and the surfaces to which the plaques are attached,
the Black Boy clock in Nelson Street needs a different contextualization, one which foregrounds slavery,
rather than a clock.
Heritage and Counter-Heritage in Stroud and the Five Valleys
The text below is what I think is important when considering SDC’s consultation on Stroud’s ‘Heritage’:
‘I think it is important to reflect on the whole notion of counter-heritage, too. By that, I mean a practice that goes beyond the visible and the archived: following the EP Thompson/Raphael Samuel historiographical process of giving a voice to the forgotten, ignored or marginalised, and not just foregrounding the ‘drum and trumpet’ outlook. Any new heritage strategy should consider this – for example: Stroud’s current heritage boards: the one in the Shambles gives a brief mention to food riots, with no contextualisation and explanation, and then we’re away on the ‘Great Man’ view of the past and naval war.
This counter-heritage should not just be about the lower orders – women and men – of Stroud: the spinners and weavers confronting the march of technology rather than just submitting to it; the Chartists; the poachers; Captain Swing and so on; it should also raise questions about the possible involvement of Stroud scarlet in the slave trade. It is vital that Stroud addresses and presents a multicultural history in the 21st century.
The heritage board near Lechlade, by the canal/Thames interchange at Inglesham , implicitly mentions this – nowhere in Stroud does.
A few slave owners in the district received compensation when slavery was abolished in 1834 – and that injection of capital helped fuel the industrial revolution. The Keynsian multiplier effect from the East India Company – opium, tobacco, slaving – also helped transform our landscape. The Bathurst slavery link also contributed to what is called a ‘colonial countryside’.read more
I went searching for the soul of Forest Green,
Wandering intuitively, ad hoc
Inferentially, without any
A priori knowledge or insight:
It was a tabula rasa wander.
Northfields Road smacked of enclosed fields
(‘Its only bondage was the circling sky’),
And Eighteenth century food riots,
With Captain Swing riding over in Horsley,
While dark satanic mills in the valleys
Stood where weavers once combined for justice.
I crossed the threshold of a century,
Past chapel, school, and blacksmith’s workshop,
Through labyrinths of handloom weavers’ paths,
Along a valley far below the flood threat
Of countless springs and teeming brooks and streams,
Along The Rollers, Chestnut Hill, Star Hill,
And so to the Jovial Foresters,
Where the players used to change for the match,
(Victorian post box in its roadside wall),
Past a blue plaque to Private Charles Marmont,
Died of wounds 21st May 1918,
Buried Forest Green Chapel Graveyard,
And so to where Joseph Weight used to work
(A Nailsworth Conscientious Objector),
Before he faced the tribunal’s judgement
On whether he really had a conscience.
MY EARLY YEARS
I was born in Liverpool in 1952. It seems strange looking back but Liverpool was still a bombsite as it was only 7 years after the end of the war. We lived 300 yards from the docks and through a child’s eyes everything seemed to be in black and white. I was the second oldest of 5 children. My mother had her children before she was 21 and we lived in 2 rooms in a privately rented house.
My father was pretty useless and he preferred the company of his mates in the pub and I remember him spending time in prison but my mother told us that he was working in Butlins holiday camp during the periods of his absence.
Lines of Green: the hills and vales of the Five Valleys;
Lines of Red: Stroud Scarlet stretched on tenterhooks;
Lines of Black: Denotes strength and clarity of vision
And the slave trade and its abolition
History, topography, politics and football,
All conjoined in the design of the FVR football shirt,
A revolutionary shirt,
In nature, design and intention:
An inclusive shirt,
Not just for Stroud,
But for the Five Valleys too,
And the wide world beyond,
A shirt from the People’s Republic of Stroud:
Art of Clay.