Studio 2: 800 Years and Counting

The 1217 Charter of the Forests in the Forest of Dean and its Enduring Legacy

Bristol Radical History Festival 2017 Flyer Front
The Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire - royal larder or people's larder? The Charter of the Forests, a lesser-known but wider-ranging companion to the Magna Carta, confirmed any "freemen" or commoners could help themselves to many of the resources of forests across England. Within 500 years, those subsisting in the woods were declared illegal squatters as aristocrats and the Crown tried to fence them out and grab all the iron ore, coal, timber and land. Successive waves of tenacious, described […]

Escape was on Everyone’s Mind

The Tale of Jack Sheppard

Paper theatre by Otherstory at Southbank, Dean Lane, Bristol BS3 1DB. See how an ordinary apprentice carpenter became the legendary jail breaker and hero of the people. Witness his daring and miraculous escapes! Watch him outwit judges, jailers and the Thieftaker General – until the hangman’s noose beckons and it’s now or never, neck or nothing… 18th Century London, its rebellious mobs, rapacious merchants and well-fed judges, are brought to vivid life on a table. The use of simple cut-out […]

Poaching in the South West

The Berkeley Case

Steve Mills will give a talk on the contents of his recent BRHG pamphlet/'Poaching in the South West'/ which considers the poaching wars in rural areas in the 18th and 19th Centuries and the arms race conducted between the poaching gangs, landowners and game keepers. He will also look at the development of the 'poaching' laws in the period and the famous Berkeley Case. More information here. Watch this talk

Escape was on Everyone’s Mind

The Tale of Jack Sheppard

The Greenbank, 57 Belle Vue Rd, Easton, BS5 6DP. Matinee Doors 3.00 pm, show 3.30 pm Evening Doors 7.00 pm, show 7.30 pm Paper Theatre by Otherstory See how an ordinary apprentice carpenter from East London became the legendary jail breaker and hero of the people, whose fame spread across oceans. Witness his daring escapes! Watch him outwit judges, jailers and the Thieftaker General - until the hangman's noose beckons and it's now or never, neck or nothing... To reserve tickets, email […]

Poaching in the South West

The Berkeley Case

Poaching in the South West
Poaching is known in some quarters as the 2nd oldest profession and defined as the taking of wild animals without the landowners consent. Here lies a significant problem: how could a landowner own an animal which happens to be present on his land? The Bible stated that God had provided a commonwealth for all but landowners felt they had inherited rights, passed down through generations, giving them alone the privileged to hunt game. This was the central argument that drove, during the 17th, 18th […]

A Child of the Jago

By Arthur Morrison
A child of jago
Arthur Morrison’s 1890’s novel A Child of the Jago is set in the slum courts of London’s East End. Life in the Jago is a Hobbesian war of all against all, a socialist Darwinist nightmare for which the legal jurisdiction is the law of the jungle. Based on the historic rookeries of London’s Old Nichol, the Jago is not only a geographical area but an existential state of desperation. Morrison penned A Child of the Jago in such a way as to both inform and also shock and titillate middle-class […]

Charles Booth’s Policemen

Crime, Police and Community in Jack-the-Ripper ’s London

By Victor Bailey
Charles Booth's Policemen cover
The recorded crime rate in the East End of London fell during the period of 1875 until 1900. The rate of common assaults, aggravated assaults, and assaults on the police fell from 423 crimes per 100,000 people in 1875 to 204 crimes in 1900 and even prosecutions for drunkenness fell after 1875. The purpose of this book is to show clearly how that decline was directly related to the actual behavior of the public rather than changes in law enforcement or people’s attitude to crime. In the later […]

The Cock Road Gang

Cock Road was, in the 18th Century, a tiny little hamlet on the outskirts of Bristol. However, the exploits of the inhabitants brought it to the attention of the authorities of Bristol, Gloucestershire and Somerset. It was claimed that a criminal gang came from Cock Road, and no gang matched their notoriety. They were engaged in horse stealing, burglary, highway robbery, and possibly the first ram raid. They had links in the area, and up and down the country. Generations of the same families […]

The Crimes of Walter Virgo and the “Blakeney Gang”

In the Forest of Dean towards the end of the nineteenth century the ‘Blakeney Outrages’ of the 1890s led to Walter Virgo and the “Blakeney Gang” being accused of acts of poisoning, maiming, stealing, poaching, midnight raids, dynamiting, arson and murder. However, their story cannot be understood without placing their actions in the historical context of the struggle for the customary right to common which in the past involved the use of direct action and political violence. A consideration of […]

Alsatia

The idea is simple enough: to investigate the area of London known as Alsatia, and other similar ‘outlaw’ areas, their history, context and meanings. There are many tantalising references, but nothing substantial on the subject, so it offers challenges and rewards. Of course, I could just do some searching, some reading, and perhaps write an article or suchlike. But keeping track of all the fragments, questions and resonances requires some organization, and that in turn requires some tools. ... […]

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