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For the Love of a Chartist

PRESS RELEASE

FOR THE LOVE OF A CHARTIST

STROUD THEATRE FESTIVAL

Chartism was a working class movement of the 1830s and 40s that wanted to establish democracy in the country, at a time when only the aristocracy and middle class men had the vote.
It was based upon 6 points: the secret ballot so there could be no intimidation; payment of MPs so that working people could stand; same-size constituencies to prevent the old rural aristocracy lording it over the new industrial towns; ending the ownership of property rule to become an MP, so that working people could stand; votes for all men over 21 (there were Chartist groups in favour of votes for women even back then, however); annual parliaments so that governments would keep their promises.

All but one of these is now the law, of course, but you could easily end up in prison in Chartist times for supporting these ideas … lose your freedom, your job and home for wanting a democratic government…

It’s time to remember these freedom-fighters, and rescue them from what EP Thompson called, ‘the enormous condescension of posterity’.
And so this show – our counter-heritage rescuing of two special working people from the enormous condescension of posterity: George Shell of Newport and Charlotte-Alice Bingham of Stroud.

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Swindon and The Great War

They were summoned from the hillside,
They were called in from the glen,
And the country found them ready
At the stirring call for men.
Let no tears add to their hardship,
As the soldiers pass along,
And although your heart is breaking
Make it sing this cheery song:

Keep the home fires burning
While your hearts are yearning,
Though the lads are far away,
They dream of home.
There’s a silver lining,
Through the dark clouds shining,
Turn the dark cloud inside out,
Till the boys come home.

1914
4th August: 7.49 p.m.

The factory hooter blows ten times: the order to mobilize: war.

Men march in the streets between Swindon Junction and Swindon Old Town stations; transportation of military personnel and equipment starts. The mayor speaks, to loud cheers: ‘You are leaving home and friends at the call of duty … We will see that they do not want. Our good wishes go with you … Be of good cheer. Goodbye, Good luck, and God bless you all!’

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Football’s Coming Home at The Prince Albert

I like visiting the Albert,
I like the way it commands a crossroads,
Welcoming all cardinal points of the compass,
Just like a traditional inn should,
I particularly like it when the football comes home.

I like visiting the Albert in springtime,
When vases of flowers greet you in the bar,
With vernal fragrance and equinoctial promise,
Stretching into blossoming infinity,
But that’s not as good as when the football comes home.

I like summer drinking in the Albert,
With a pint of Alton’s Pride,
It’s like an infusion of Thomas Hardy,
With every novel you’ve ever read
Returning like a Native,
Or like the football.

I like autumn drinking in the Albert,
When mists and mellow fruitlessness
Entwine themselves around the eaves,
Just like a gothic Woman in White,
Or Jordan Pickford.

I like winter drinking in the Albert,
Sledging down the snow-scaped common,
Then in the bar for mulled ale and wine,
Just like we’re in A Christmas Carol,
But not with the ghost of Sam Allardyce.

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Rodborough Walk

We followed the old way out of Rodborough, taking Kingscourt Road to follow the 1300 Manor boundary. A route of old farmsteads, vanished feudal obligations and lost names.
De Rodboroughs and Gastrells, Achards and the Cynnes.
Red valerian and plump roses topped the summer limestone walls as we continued up The Street, through shady hanging beech woods and on to the site of the Horestone. Lost marker of the boundary of the manor of Minchinhampton.
Then a sharp climb, out of the shaded wood and up the dazzling limestone grassland slopes of the common. Such a richness of wild flowers. Their names as beautiful to the ear

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The Final Scores

1914-1918: And Now For The Final Cost:
These figures show 2014 research into the number of players at the clubs below who lost their lives in the Great War. This may not yet be the Final Cost. There is also an interesting postscript.

Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 1
Barnsley 4 Blackburn Rovers 2
Birmingham City 2 Blackpool 3
Bolton Wanderers 1 Bradford City 9
Derby County 6 Brentford 7
Brighton and Hove Albion 5 Bristol City 5
Bristol Rovers 3 Bury 7
Burnley 5 Cardiff City 0
Chelsea 6 Clapton Orient 4
Coventry City 6 Crystal Palace 4
Bradford Park Avenue 2 Everton 7
Exeter City 6 Fulham 0
Grimsby Town 1 Huddersfield Town 5
Hull City 4 Liverpool 6
Luton Town 3 Manchester City 9
Manchester United 8 Middlesborough 7
Millwall 5 Newcastle United 9

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The National Trust, Counter-Heritage and Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Heritage and Counter-Heritage: Are They So Very Different?

Two recent visits to ‘historic’ houses and a recent walk have made me question the usual binary opposition of heritage and counter-heritage, and got me thinking that perhaps they lie rather more on a continuum.
A visit to Dennis Severs’ house
http://radicalstroud.co.uk/dennis-severs-house/,
A counter-heritage disenchantment walk http://radicalstroud.co.uk/colonial-countryside-disenchantment/,
and a visit to the National Trust cottage of Samuel Taylor Coleridge at Nether Stowey have set me a-thinking.
https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/coleridge-cottage

It struck me at Nether Stowey, that the National Trust quite-right wish for visitor-enchantment, involved counter-heritage practices too … and if the National Trust does that …

The Coleridges’ Cottage: Samuel and Sara

It sits in Lime Street, Nether Stowey,
Just off the old Minehead turnpike road,
Opposite a pub called the Ancient Mariner:
(The inn sign has no picture, just the words:
THE ANCIENT MARINER in upper case,
With a tiny inset top left: Lyrical Ballads)
The cottage of Samuel Taylor Coleridge –
The home and workplace of Sara Coleridge,
Now a National Trust Museum –
Involves an imaginative re-creation
Of how the cottage might have looked in 1797,
In that year of poetic wonderment;

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Alternative Heritage Walk

Radical Stroud’s June walk is a week-early Jo Cox Memorial Walk: Meet at Rodborough Church, Friday June 15th at 10; returning to the church at 1pm. We shall be investigating the medieval history of Rodborough from the days when it was still owned as part of the Manor Minchinhampton by the Abbess of Caen. A trail that takes in several recorded medieval residences and places.

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