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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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Some say Incompetent, Some say Criminal

Dominic Raab, knowing that a week is a long time in politics, has said that “Now is not the time to commit to an inquiry”.

He knows that the government’s actions and inaction have led to needless loss of life.

We believe that the government must answer for these deaths under the Corporate Manslaughter Act and are seeking to crowdfund a prosecution.

The link is here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/keith-
butler?utm_term=9wxY78P9Z

The link will reveal the serious, principled and sequential structure to the
campaign.

The BBC and The Guardian have both been contacted today about this.

Keith Butler is assiduously, sedulously and forensically compiling a compelling dossier of evidence.

Please support financially if you can and/or by sharing this as widely as you can.

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WALKING THE THAMES TO LONDON #4

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust

In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert

Day Two: Cricklade to Lechlade 11 miles

William Cobbett visited Cricklade in 1826 on his Rural Rides: ‘the source of the river Isis … the first branch of the Thames. They call it the “Old Thames” and I rode through it here, it not being above four or five yards wide, and not deeper than the knees of my horse … I saw in one single farm-yard here more food than enough for four times the inhabitants of the parish … the poor creatures that raise the wheat and the barley and cheese and the mutton and the beef are living upon potatoes …’
Plus ca change …

A haiku exploration:
Ridge and furrow fields,
Once beyond the river’s reach,
Now puddled and drowned.

Peasants till the fields,
Barefoot ghosts and revenants
Follow in our steps.

Silhouetted trees,
Pewter sky and silver clouds,
The water’s canvas.

Swans glide the field-flood,
A limitless lake’s expanse,
Burnished willow boughs.

And at Inglesham,
A medieval village,
Lost to Time’s waters.

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Rough Musick

ROUGH MUSICK
When we bang our pots and pans in the street,
When we clap our hands in harmony,
It’s not just an expression of sympathy,
Nor some sort of collective empathy,
It’s also the revival of ROUGH MUSICK.

ROUGH MUSICK:
A community PANDAEMONIUM
To indicate disapproval of rulers,
The wrong-doer often shown in effigy,
Sometimes riding the SKIMMINGTON,
As in The Mayor of Casterbridge,
Or the 1825 Stroud weavers’ riots,
As the world is turned upside down.

THE SKIMMINGTON
Perhaps we’ll see Dominic Cummings
In effigy, and Boris Johnson,
Placed backwards on a donkey in Chalford,
Or wheelbarrow or bike in Stroud,
As we all chant:
‘TEST
TEST
TEST
PPE
KEEP KEY WORKERS
VIRUS-FREE.’

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Walking The Thames To London #3

WALKING THE THAMES TO LONDON #3
Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust
In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert

And on Thursday 6th February, I started the first day
On my Thames Path Food Bank Pilgrimage:
Day One Thursday 6th February 2020 Source to Cricklade

Frost, fog, mist, sunshine, sunrise 7.31; sunset 16.57; carbon count 413.90; remembering the remarkable Allen Davenport of Ewen, one mile on from the source of the river; swans, herons, twitcher all in camouflage secreted behind a tree, ridge and furrow, flooded water meadows, meandering broken banked Thames, wading waist-deep on one occasion; 13 miles. Cricklade 3pm.

Remembering Allen Davenport of Ewen:

One of ten children in a handloom weaver’s cottage: ‘I was born May 1st, 1775, in the small and obscure village of Ewen … somewhat more than a mile from the source of the Thames, on the banks of which stream stands the cottage in which I was born … I came into existence, while the revolutionary war of America was raging …’

He taught himself to read by learning songs; then saving up to buy printed versions. He taught himself to write: ‘I got hold of a written alphabet … I tried my hand at black and white … and to my inexpressible joy I soon discovered that my writing could be read and partially understood’.

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Virtual Walking

KEEP FIT WHEN SELF-ISOLATING by pretending to walk the Thames to London. Join me for a virtual walk and measure your steps inside your house. As many of you know, I have been walking the river piecemeal towards London to raise funds for the Trussell Trust and food banks. I’ve got as far as Wallingford in reality and have now walked to Tilehurst in a pretend way. Join me if you wish and I’ll let you know what you’ve seen along the river banks. The next stage is from Cholsey to Tilehurst which is about twelve miles.

It may be that you might want to send me a sentence or two about your ‘walk’ in exchange, as we build up a journal of this new plague year. The first two posts about walking from Stroud are up here – please see below.

I have reached the conclusion that individual, family and public health considerations mean that I will now walk the Thames in a virtual/pretend way.

How will I do this?

By laying out the route-map for the day and by measuring the required distance on my phone. I will walk within my home and within my immediate locality, but far from the madding crowd: 19 corvids rather COVID-19, as it were.

By using imagination and memory rather than observation. By following my usual practice of blending reflections on topographical, historical, and contemporary contexts, with the Trussell Trust and food banks always in focus.

By all virtual means, please join me.

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WALKING THE THAMES TO LONDON #2

Raising Funds for the Trussell Trust
In association with the cyclists’ group from The Prince Albert

So here I am walking from Walbridge in Stroud,
Along the Thames and Severn Canal,
To Trewsbury Mead and the source of the Thames,
The prologue to my pilgrimage
To the Celestial City.

Prologue: Wednesday, 5th February 2020 Stroud to Source

It’s a great walk down to Capel’s Mill from my house,
Past old ridge and furrow and tenterhook hedgerows,
Teazles here and there to raise your nap,
Imagining the patchwork quilt of fields of two centuries ago:
You pass an old oak sentinel to reach the River Frome,
Railway viaduct and canal-bridge close at hand,
And there is the dell that once was Capel’s Mill:
Trees clambering down the steep riverbank to shroud the waters,
The remains of the mill sluice quickening the river’s pulse,
Rusting iron work still visible,
The steady drip down from the railway arches,

The echo of the 1839 Miles Report:

The weavers are much distressed; they are wretchedly off in bedding; has seen many cases where the man and his wife and as many as 7 children have slept on straw, laid on the floor with only a torn quilt to cover them … children crying for food, and the parents having no money in the house, or work to obtain any; he has frequently given them money out of his own pocket to provide them with a breakfast …These men have a great dread of going to the Poor Houses, and live in constant hope that every day will bring them some work; witness has frequently told them they would be better in the (work)house, and their answer has been, ‘I would sooner starve.’

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