Studio 2: Ecology from below

Resisting Enclosure in Rural Somerset and Dorset, 1780-1850

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries witnessed widespread attempts to ‘privatise’ rural England. By enclosing common land and extinguishing customary rights, rural elites sought to physically reshape and culturally redefine the countryside. In counties such as Somerset and Dorset, labourers increasingly found themselves barred from entering the fields and woodland that had supported their families for generations. Meanwhile, those who attempted to voice their concerns regarding these changes […]

Studio 2: Green Romanticism

Stephen Hunt of the Bristol Radical History Group will start the day with an overview of the ecology movement’s roots in the Romantic era. Industrial capitalism emerged together with the mass exploitation of fossil fuels during the Eighteenth Century. Over the next century it became increasingly apparent that accelerating processes of expansion and extraction threatened many habitats, or even the whole planet. Green Romantic anti-capitalism was an outcome of such processes. The negative social […]

Studio 2: Back to the land

Personal reflections on green and community politics in the 1970s

In 1973 Kath Holden helped found a small commune based on a 135-acre dairy farm in West Wales. She went on to become a smallholder in the same area and disputed her entitlement to common grazing with local farmers, recalling earlier struggles for common-land rights. Later in the decade she volunteered on a farm in the USA, which offered sanctuary for people with mental health difficulties recovering from being in hospital. Inspired by these experiences, she went on to work on one of the earliest […]

Radical Culture

Discourse, Resistance and Surveillance, 1790-1820

By David Worrall
Worral's book concentrates on the period of the French revolution and the Napoleonic wars. The narrative is based mainly in London, and looks at those who wanted to replicate the French Revolution in Britain. The main thread looks at those who believed in the work of Thomas Spence, who has largely been ignored in the mainstream history books. Spence was an ultra-radical, who saw the main problems with British society in land ownership. He wanted common land ownership, on a corporate basis, but […]

Radical History: Smuggling and Poaching in Dorset

At Bridport Museum, 25 South Street, Bridport, Dorset DT6 3NR

As part of BridLit Fringe Kev Davis and Steve Mills from the Bristol Radical History Group explore the history of smuggling and poaching in Dorset. Should Smugglers be considered folk heroes and to what extent smuggling was a community enterprise? Did you know poachers in some quarters are seen as the second oldest professionals? Who are they? Did they take game for the pot or to sell? Were they in direct competition with the landowners? Both sides used violence, guile and confederates with […]

The Sons of Belial

Protest and Community Change in the North West 1740-70

By David Walsh
This is a very good book, extremely informative. Even though the bulk of the book is set in the North West of England, there is a wider historical scope. Which would be very useful for the student or historian of the period. The book opens with an in depth examination of developing economic theories. It charts the shift from a largely agrarian, paternalistic society, to an industrialising nation, and rapid urbanisation. Furthermore, the study looks at the development of a mercantilist philosophy […]

Performance Space: Story Telling: ‘The Dispossessed’

Bristol Radical History Festival 2018 Poster Light
  As part of her collection of historically-based narratives which provoke questions about society today, Heather Jane will present a story set in her homeland of Gloucestershire. 'The Dispossessed' is a tale weaving poaching, 18th century criminality, and dispossession of people from the land in Berkeley and the Forest of Dean; followed by historical facts and discussion pondering the modern-day fall out of enclosures.

Life Gallery, Level 1: A Tribute to Heathcote Williams

Public historian of great English insurrections

A Tribute to Heathcote Williams, public historian of great English insurrections: excerpts from ‘The Red Dagger’ and ‘The Invisible Captain Swing'. Poetry recited by Ciaran Walsh.

Studio 2: 800 Years and Counting

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

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 […]

Freedoms of the Forest

800 Years and counting: celebrating the Forest Charter 1217

Hopewell Colliery, Speech House Rd, Coleford, Forest of Dean GL16 7EL An afternoon celebrating 800 years (and counting) of the 1217 Forest Charter, and how Foresters have defended those rights ever since. Stalls, Berry Hill Silver Band, theatre, live music, Vorrest poetry, Warren James, HOOF, and much, much more! Book a car ticket here

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