Monday, October 04, 2021

James Hawes and Nick Hayes visit Newton in the Willows

The goal of one of my very first outings with a digital camera has cropped up in two book I have just read.

It is the village of Newton (Newton in the Willows if you are a romantic) near Geddington in Northamptonshire and gets a necessarily brief mention in James Hawes' The Shortest History of England and a much longer on in Nick Hayes' The Book of Trespass.

As I blogged twelve years ago, in 1607 Newton was the site of slaughter:

Over 1000 peasants gathered from Rockingham Forest - men, women and children - led by Captain Pouch. He was a tinker whose real name was John Reynoldes. He claimed to have authority from the kingdom of Heaven and to have a pouch which contained "that which shall keep you from all harm". Following the events of 8 June, it was found to contain nothing more than a piece of green cheese.

The armed bands formed of local men were reluctant to be involved and the gentry had to rely on their own servants to support them. The rebels refused to obey the orders to disperse, and continued to pull down hedges and fill in the enclosing ditches. The King's proclamation was read twice. Still the rebels refused to give way.

Finally, the gentry and their troops charged, and over 40 peasants were killed. Prisoners were taken, imprisoned in St Faith's Church, and the ringleaders tried, hanged and quartered. Their quarters were hung in towns across Northamptonshire as a clear message.

Hayes was in the area to explore the nearby estate of the Duke of Buccleuch - "over thirty times larger than Hyde Park, and reserved for a single family," as he puts it.

Just down the road is another estate. Avondale Gragne, on the outskirts of Kettering, was the subject of an article in the NN Journal last week:

“A good comparison to the Grange estate is to call it a modern day dodge city,” says Ady, who has lived in the area for the past decade, relocating from Norfolk to be near his children.

“You don’t look at people,” says Lorraine. “I keep my head down and don’t look anyone in the eye anymore as it is enough to get you into an argument”.

We are still a very unequal country, and Hayes argues that out system of landholding has much to do with it.

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