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Radical Inns and Coffee Houses of London

Radical inns, taverns, alehouses, coffee houses, homes, houses, chapels,
Institutes, debating clubs and Spencean ‘free and easies’
Derived from a reading of Radical Underworld by Ian McCalman,
Radical Culture: Discourse, Resistance and Surveillance 1790-1820
by David Worrall,
William Cuffay The Life & Times of a Chartist Leader by Martin Hoyles,
The Spirit of Despotism by John Barrell,
Ian Newman http://www.1790salehouse.com/
and Francis Boorman’s thesis on Chancery Lane
https://sas-space.sas.ac.uk/5797/1/Francis_Boorman_- The_Political_space_of_Chancery_Lane_c._1760-1815.pdf

First up, the Bell in Exeter Street, where the LCS was formed in 1791,
To hear Thomas Hardy, founder of the LCS:
‘The Rights of Man’ ‘are not confined to this small island
But are extended to the whole human race, black or white,
High or low, rich or poor’;
Then to the Globe Tavern, corner of the Strand and Craven Street,
Where LCS divisions met in 1794:
‘We must have redress from our own laws and not from the laws
of our plunderers, enemies and oppressors’
Next, to Soho for the Panton Street Debating Club of 1795,
And the London Corresponding Society, once more:
“If the King … dare attempt to trample upon the Liberties of the People,
I hope they will trample upon his head”;
Other LCS pubs: The Friend at Hand, Little North Street,
The French Horn, Lambeth Walk,
The Queen’s Arms, Kennington Lane,
The Fox and Hounds, Sydenham,
But we’re off to Lunan’s public house,
Academy Court, Chancery Lane,
With Jacobins and spies in Bell’s Yard, too:
‘He talked of killing the King with blow-pipe
and poisoned arrow’;

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Radical Stroud Revolutionary Walks Programme

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 stfc12@hotmail.comThis 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 stfc12@hotmail.com

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Spring Equinox Walk

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.

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Oakridge Walk February 23rd 2019

‘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.

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Thomas Helliker: the Trowbridge Martyr

Prologue

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?’

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Broadstairs and Charles Dickens: Heritage and Counter-Heritage

‘Charles Dickens never lived here’
Is a standout plaque on a cottage wall,
Down towards the harbour in Broadstairs –
Must take some courage to ironise
The Broadstairs branding of itself …

He first came here in 1837,
The year of Victoria’s accession,
And a year of gathering Chartist momentum,
To lodge in the High Street at number twelve,
To complete the last few monthly numbers
Of Pickwick Papers, and make so much money
That he bought the imposing cliff top house,
Fort House, built some thirty odd years before,
Where he penned his pages of labyrinthine plots,
And Pickwickian old time wistful nostalgia,
And critical observations of modern times:
Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist,
Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop,
Barnaby Rudge, Martin Chuzzlewit,
Dombey and Son, David Copperfield;

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A Wiltshire Town and Peterloo

I travelled on the GWR,
Built not long after the Orator’s death,
Passing through a mill-scape valley
Known well by quondam colleague, William Cobbett,
On past antique ridge and furrow fields,
To Swindon, a town that I am sure
Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt would have admired,
A new industrial work-town,
Full of mechanics and artisans and questioning,
Thence by the 49 bus across the windswept Downs,
Through a leafless Captain Swing landscape
On a Captain Swing late November rain-swept day,
To take my leisure at the Bear in the town square,
Where – against every grain – Henry Hunt took his wife:
‘How this betrothing came about I must now inform my readers, I had often
heard my father speak in very high terms of Miss Halcomb, the daughter of his
old acquaintance, Mr. Wm. Halcomb, who kept the Bear Inn at Devizes, well
known to be one of the very best inns between London and Bath.’

I travelled on the GWR,
Built not long after the Orator’s death,
Passing through a mill-scape valley
Known well by quondam colleague, William Cobbett,
On past antique ridge and furrow fields,
To Swindon, a town that I am sure
Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt would have admired,
A new industrial work-town,
Full of mechanics and artisans and questioning,
Thence by the 49 bus across the windswept Downs,
Through a leafless Captain Swing landscape
On a Captain Swing late November rain-swept day,
To take my leisure at the Bear in the town square,
Where – against every grain – Henry Hunt took his wife:
‘How this betrothing came about I must now inform my readers, I had often
heard my father speak in very high terms of Miss Halcomb, the daughter of his
old acquaintance, Mr. Wm. Halcomb, who kept the Bear Inn at Devizes, well
known to be one of the very best inns between London and Bath.’

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