Tag Archives: English Civil War

Six Thousand Shillings Sitting on a Shelf

We started sorting shillings at 10.00 and finished at 14.30. If we’d started four hours earlier, or spent another hour and a half sorting, it would take the tongue-twisting title to a whole new level.

A sixish start spending six hours sorting six thousand shillings sitting on a sagging shelf is not a sentence to be attempted lightly, or in polite company. Even for an alliteration addict like me, it’s a bit much.

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Silvery sorted shillings sitting in a sorting tray

The sets of  shillings are slowly taking shape. Coincidentally my back is also taking on a new shape, which is much more hunched than it was a couple of days ago. Shilling Sorters Spine is shortly going to be written up in The Lancet.  Or possibly the BMJ. One of my friends was once written up in one of them after the premature detonation of a cannon.

We were re-enacting the English Civil War in the Sealed Knot somewhere in Somerset (that’s not a security measure – I just can’t remember exactly where). The mop for swabbing out the barrel was a bit worn and it allowed a glowing ember to survive the operation. When the powder was rammed home the ember ignited the charge while he was still ramming.

This is clearly a bad thing.

Fortunately, because he was using good technique, the ramrod merely took the skin off his palms as it whistled across the “battlefield”. The blast also blew off his shirt sleeves and peppered his arms with fragments of black powder.

And that, when one of the doctors realised this was a rare chance to write up the hazards of muzzle-loading cannon, was how he appeared in the medical press.

We never did find his shirt sleeves…

Just to give you some idea of what the blast looks like I’ve purloined a photo from the web.

Image result for sealed knot cannon

 

Another of my mates was shot in the small of the back (mere inches above anywhere that would have provided a highly amusing and ribald anecdote) by a cannon at Naseby. But that is another story.

The Saracen’s Head

Driving into Southwell from Newark, you can’t really miss the Saracen’s Head – as it positively dominates the junction in the middle of town.

In 1646 it was called the King’s Head, and on the morning  of 5th May 1646 the King came to call. Things hadn’t gone well for him over the years.

He’d fought against the Scots in the Bishop’s Wars of 1639 and 1640 and had not covered himself in martial glory.  The first was a draw, the second an emphatic away win for the Scots, who easily over-ran the counties of Northumberland and Durham, They then refused to hand them back until the English reimbursed them for the cost of the war. In 1641 the Irish started again (having fought four wars against the English in the previous 100 years), and in 1642 the English Civil War started.

The first action of the king was to raise his standard on Standard Hill in Nottingham. It blew down. It may or may not have been  bad omen, but it was certainly an inauspicious start to a war that gradually went wrong. By 5th May 1646 it looked about as bad as it could be, and the King arranged to surrender to the Scots.

He was rather caught out when the Scots handed him over to Parliament in return for £400,000, but carried on scheming and eventually managed to enlist Scots help in fighting Parliament. A Scots army did invade England in 1648, but was badly beaten by Cromwell at Preston.

With hindsight, (and if you believe in these things), meeting the Scots in a tavern called the King’s Head has the look of a bad omen.

We now come to my view of King Charles I, which isn’t necessarily a balanced academic view. He was a bit of an idiot and a good advert for why royal families should pay attention to the depth of their gene pool. If you look at his father you can see he never had much of a chance.

But when the chips were down he put on an extra shirt so he wouldn’t shiver in the January cold and seem afraid as he stepped up to the execution block.

“Let me have a shirt on more than ordinary by reason the season is so sharp as probably may make mee shake, which some Observors will imagin’ proceeds from fear. I will have no such Imputation, I fear not death!”

There is more to being a King than being clever and avoiding marrying your cousin.

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Raffles and old friends

Mix of work today, I’ve hoed the beds, mooched tea and biscuits from the yoga group and visted two companies who are giving us raffle and tombola prizes.

This last can be quite hectic as these days they all seem to want photo ID before you can pick things up. For a man with no passport and an old style driving licence this can be quite a strain. Fortunately Julia has a passport. I had one once, but after my last trip abroad, which featured being caught in a riot, threatened with arrest and sitting in a car when the door fell off…

Well, you can see why I decided not to go abroad again.

Newark was great in the sunshine and I got to catch up with an old mate. We’ve known each other a long time – I didn’t have kids in those days and he didn’t have a bypass. Would have liked to have made time for the English Civil War Centre but there wasn’t time today.

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Newark in sunshine

Before closing I’d just like to say thanks to Boots, Morrisons, Asda and Wilkinsons for their support with raffle and tombola prizes for Open Farm Sunday. After a number of refusals and a few people who didn’t even reply it’s nice to know that some people will still support small local events.