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 […]

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.

The Gallows Pole

By Benjamin Myers
Cover of novel featuring silhouette of figure with noose for hanging in background.
The Gallows Pole is a wonderful novel set in 18th Century Yorkshire. It is based on a true story about the Craggs Vale Coiners. Coiners clipped coins. If you look at your £1 coin, you will see the rim is serrated. This is due to the age old crime of clipping. Back in the day, silver and gold coins were actually made of the precious metal. Coiners were engaged in slightly clipping the edges off, melting the scrapings and re-pressing coins. These would then be circulated. Nowadays, the Bank of […]

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 […]

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. It's defined as the taking of wild animals without the landowner's consent but therein lies a significant problem: how can a landowner own an animal which happens to be present on his land? The Bible states that God provided a commonwealth for all, but landowners feel they have inherited rights, passed down through generations, giving them alone the privilege to hunt game. This was the central argument during the 17th, 18th and […]

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 […]

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