June 30, 2013

The Ballad of Freeborn John

The Ballad of Freeborn John

The bloodiest war in our history
And one in four of us died
For a castled king on a stagnant throne
And a revolutionary tide.

‘I spilt my blood so I need a voice!’
Cries Freeborn John at Putney,
‘Who dies for England is England’s king,
We are no grandee’s army.

‘The poorest man in England has
The right to live as the greatest,
Our All in all is God the king
In every soul and breast.’

The bloodiest war in our history
And one in four of us died
For a castled king on a stagnant throne
And a revolutionary tide.

We’re the voice of the Freeborn Englishman
That was raised at Magna Carta,
The deathless flag of the Good Old Cause, the Bold
Dissenting Leveller.

I rose with Tyler, Straw and Ball
When peasants shook the kingdom,
I was sold down that river of blood by a king
Who hawked the soul of England.

We need no manor house and land
To fix our permanent interest,
We fight for England, our rights and ourselves:
No mercenary business.

The bloodiest war in our history
And one in four of us died
For a castled king on a stagnant throne
And a revolutionary tide.

I will strike with the Tolpuddle Martyrs,
I will die at Peterloo,
March to bloody hell at the Westgate Hotel
To win this England for you,

Die a million deaths in two world wars
Though the portion’s not so many
As died for Charles, that Man of Blood,
And in our redcoat Army.

A new model England truly advanced,
Through the royal ranks of sin
In a cavalry charge to a Future Now
Where God not man is king.*

The bloodiest war in our history
And one in four of us died
For a castled king on a stagnant throne
And a revolutionary tide.

*the epitaph on Cromwell’s tomb

During the English Civil Wars - in June 1647, at Putney, with the king under arrest - a proto-democratic assembly of elected New Model Army representatives debated a new constitution for England. The vision of ordinary men and what they had fought for received articulate expression and a level of consideration far beyond the intellectual level of the Stuart court or of the aristocratic 'Parliament.' 'Freeborn John' Lilburne was one of the key voices but there are many others like John Ball through history. The debates, often regarded as the cradle of modern democracy, were cut short by the 'Man of Blood' (Charles I) escaping and a second war beginning. Incredible that this Civil War, fought on principle rather than for tribal loyalties or pay, cost one in four English lives proportionally higher than World War I and II combined. The poem was first composed on St George's Day 2013, and the intention is to include it as a new folk song in my Cromwell's Talking Head show as a musical collaboration.

The chorus emphasises the two world views of the antagonists. Charles I was set up to fight the civil war in sieges from castles but it was decided by cavalry charges in pitched battles - the verb of dynamic progress against the noun of mediaeval reaction.

June 13, 2013

Marriott's Warehouse, King's Lynn

The text of my Lynn News article, published in the Lynn News on 07/06/2013 12:00

(pic and online link: http://www.lynnnews.co.uk/news/business-news/new-era-at-green-quay-s-marriott-s-warehouse-1-5170771)

Local historian, author and True’s Yard trustee Dr Paul Richards has launched an exciting new era for Lynn’s Marriott’s Warehouse.

Speaking to an audience of 36 potential “friends” in the spacious third-floor meeting room overlooking the river that once placed Lynn in the charmed circle of the 14th century Hanseatic League, Dr Richards, chairman of the Marriott’s Warehouse Trust, enthused about the rich heritage of Lynn in general and its warehouses in particular.

This is a phoenix moment for the beautiful old building, which along with conference room, now houses a newly appointed exhibition space on its first floor and a thriving ground floor restaurant.

Despite having arguably the best location in the town in terms of its Tudor heritage and a waterside that other ports – like Bristol or Norwich– have turned into vibrant cultural centres, the previous Green Quay cafe, and exhibition centre had to close on September 30 last year due to the economic downturn and a poor summer.

At that time, six people unfortunately lost their jobs. The re-launch has brought in a business partner to run the restaurant –it was buzzing with business and atmosphere two floors below as Mr Richards spoke. It has secured agreement for the name of the building to revert to its original and to integrate Marriott’s Warehouse into a general development of the South Quay as a tourist attraction.

The development includes six pontoons for pleasure boaters and an indoor market and bar with cafe at nearby Hanse House.

Dr Richards said: “Marriott’s Warehouse Trust’s mission will be to use this historic building to interpret and exemplify the history of the working port of Lynn over the centuries through the main themes of River, Trade, Buildings and People.

“This will be achieved through the establishment of a permanent exhibition on the first floor called The Warehouse on the Wash using many artistic media to demonstrate to the public how Lynn grew in trade, what the wealth of the port was based on as well as the natural setting of The Wash and the
characters involved along the way.

“The other floors of the building will also contain exhibition space, with the top floor being used as a conference and meeting room by the Trust, and the ground floor licensed as a restaurant.”

Dr Richards added: “Recruiting new friends to the old building is seen by the Trustees as a vital way to keep the community involvement with Marriott’s Warehouse as well as help with fundraising and creating a core audience for the series of lectures and events planned for later in 2013.”

A six-week series of evening lectures from the end of September will include Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage.

“Pleasant Sunday Afternoon” talks from September 22 will explore the broader themes in the long history of King’s Lynn, reviving an activity first popular in the town in 1890.

For further information about the new venture, contact: friends@marriottswarehousetrust.co.uk