The Book of Trespass

By Nick Hayes
Book Review Details
Author: Nick Hayes
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Page Details
Section: Book Reviews =>
Subjects: Commons, Customary Rights & Enclosures
Tags: , , ,
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…the fences that divide England are not just symbols of the partition of people but the very cause of it.

Bristol Radical History Group subscribers will find inspiration in Nick Hayes’s book. He sets out to trespass on a range of properties and rivers throughout England, defiantly ignoring the fact that he – and we – are excluded from 92% of the land in England and 97% of its waterways.

In the course of his walk descriptions, Nick Hayes reveals some surprising historical heroes – William Tyndale, for a time a chaplain at Little Sodbury and now commemorated by a statue in Millennium Square. His translation of the New Testament, says Hayes, was:

arguably the single most dramatic de-privatisation of power in the history of England: he had turned the sheep of the Church’s flock into independent, self-determining freethinkers with their own interpretation of God’s will.

The Church responded by garrotting him and then burning his dead body at the stake.

Occasionally the author can’t resist the temptation to amble off down side paths but his descriptions of nature and his drawings are vivid and the main track of his journey is clear throughout:

…the historic repurposing of the land from common wealth to private profit.

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