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A Lament for Dorothy and Archie

Each little river has a tale which, if understood, cannot fail
To edify the Human heart; mine’s of Lovers who’d not part:
Both loved Nature, read her runes and worshipped countless harvest moons.
He, a Minchinhampton Man – she the lanes of Burleigh ran,
Eager, passionate, enthralled to embrace her Archibald.
The stream that gushes into town on Hazel Woods, as hail, crashed down.
High on that ridge where sheep are shorn, a tiny rivulet was born.
It seeped through soil and chiselled stone, caressing sea-spawned Cotswold bone.
A weave of light like soft silk shook became a dancing, babbling brook.
Through Gatcombe Park the waters curled, then through its stately gardens swirled
To trace a spiral as they whirled past Longfords Mill.

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Colonial Countryside? Disenchantment?

Disenchantment: The Picturesque Cotswolds and ‘Colonial Countryside’
A Walk in the Park

David Olusoga: ‘Few acts of collective forgetting have been as thorough and as successful as the erasing of slavery from Britain’s “island story”.’

The following descriptions from the internet describe the beauty of Cirencester Park. There is no mention of something else … more of that, later.

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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,

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Heritage and Counter-Heritage

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’.

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Football Gone Rogue

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,
Aged 20,
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.

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The Badgers of Slad

The paintings of badgers on the posts at Slad,
Are beguiling and deceptive in their art,
Seemingly comic and anthropomorphic,
Each one contributes to a tragic tale,
Summarised in that curt and cruel word: cull.
They look like Tommies facing execution,
Tied to their posts at dawn’s first red-streaked light:
What passing-bells for those who die for cattle?

‘Only the monstrous anger of the guns,
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle.’

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