Taking the Waters: Preview

The Bald Explorer is back and the next production is under way (Autumn 2013). In this episode, ‘Taking the Waters’, Richard Vobes, aka the Bald Explorer is investigating the story of the spring water discovered at a spot near the medieval town of Tonbridge in Kent – later it was to become Royal Tunbridge Wells.

Richard wants to find out what makes the water so good, how it became popular and why is there today for visitors who are keen to make the excursions today.

This is a teaser video, partly filmed on the common near Royal Tunbridge Wells (www.twcommons.org) and at High Rocks, a popular tourist resort and wedding venue (www.highrocks.com). The full production will be available in early 2014 on the Community Channel (www.communitychannel.org).

Follow him on Twitter: @BaldExplorer or Richard Vobes @Vobes.

Crew: Producer/Presenter – Richard Vobes. Photography – Jason Reeve. Sound – Billy Lindsey.

Taking the Waters

Working has started on the next Bald Explorer episode. I shall be off to the Sussex and Kent border to taste the waters at the Georgian Spa town of Royal Tunbridge Wells. I am working with my new cameraman, Jason Reeve, who as it happens, conveniently lives in the same town.

Like my town visits programmes I want to get to the bottom of some of the quirky and unusual historic aspects of the town, as well as trying the Chalybeate spring water with its iron health-giving properties. The programme is to be broadcast on the Community Channel, probably in the new year (2014) along with other that I have planned.

One of the lesser known facts about Royal Tunbridge Wells is the deposits of sandstone all around the area. The Kentish Weald and Sussex Downland hills are more known for their clay and chalk, but there are some very unusual rocks to explore in the area.

If you would like to support the Bald Explorer in this non-profit venture and help fund the programmes, may I direct you to the Donate Button on the right of this website. If you donate, I will make sure you get a copy of the finished programme before it is transmitted on the TV. Anything you can spare would be most welcome. Thanks very much.

New Series – Hidden Heritage

be-sixtowns In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Alec Clifton-Taylor made a series of programmes with the BBC entitled Six English Towns, Six More English Towns and Another Six English Towns. He was principally interested with showing off the wonderful survivors of beautiful architecture that was available to discover in our towns across England. Although a simple premise of looking at buildings, he did it with such charm and authority, it became a landmark series. That was thirty years ago. Much of what he showed us still remains, fortunately, but in that time towns have expanded enormously and a lot of our heritage has been swallowed up and tucked away behind the commercial hoardings, large plate-glass windows and new utilitarian constructions; what survives nowadays is often ignored or taken for granted.
I am planning to go in search of my own six towns to explore the hidden gems that are under our noses and often overlooked. To fund this, with the help of the Community Channel, a Kickstarter fund-raising project will start towards the end of June this year. (More information on that will announced soon.) This will mean, with a small TV crew, I shall be making a jaunt in the autumn and spending one week at each of the following towns:

Lyme Regis – Dorset
Lyme Regis is a coastal town in West Dorset, England, situated 25 miles west of Dorchester and 25 miles (40 km) east of Exeter. The town lies in Lyme Bay, on the English Channel coast at the Dorset–Devon border. It is nicknamed “The Pearl of Dorset.” The town is noted for the fossils found in the cliffs and beaches, which are part of the Heritage Coast—known commercially as the Jurassic Coast.

Barnstaple – Devon
Barnstaple or is a former river-port, large town, civil parish and the capital of the local government district of North Devon in the county of Devon, England. Since 1974, it has been a civil parish governed by town council.

Monmouth – Monmouthshire, Wales
Monmouth is a traditional county town in Monmouthshire, Wales. It is situated where the River Monnow meets the River Wye, within 2 miles of the border with England. The town is 36 miles north-east of Cardiff, and 127 miles west of London

Bridgenorth – Shropshire
Bridgnorth is a town in Shropshire, England, situated on the Severn Valley. It is split into High Town and Low Town, named on account of their elevations relative to the River Severn.

Newark-on-Trent – Nottinghamshire
Newark-on-Trent is a market town in Nottinghamshire in the East Midlands region of England. It stands on the River Trent, the A1, and the East Coast Main Line railway.

Sandwich – Kent
Sandwich is a historic town and civil parish on the River Stour in the Non-metropolitan district of Dover, within the ceremonial county of Kent, south-east England. It has a population of 6,800.

I do hope you will support our fund-raising efforts, tell your friends and family about the project and following the progress here on the website and on Twitter (@BaldExplorer #BaldExplorer) and of course Facebook too.

Episode Five: A Rural Town

Richard Vobes is the Bald Explorer, dashing about Britain discovering the history of its towns and villages. In this episode he is off to Petworth in the heart of West Sussex, close to Chichester and not too far from London. It is a very rural town renown for the beautiful mansion-house, upon land that once belonged to the Roger de Montgomery and later the de Percy family.

It was the third Earl of Egremont who had a vested interested in the town of Petworth. He supplied the money to build the boys school, which was later destroyed by a stray German bomber during the second World War. It was the Earl who brought water from the near by Rover Rother into the town centre and whose land it was the grim House of Correction was built on for convicted offenders from all over Sussex.

One of the prettiest streets in Sussex can be found in Petworth, complete with old shop fronts and cobbles on the ground and the Bald Explorer reveals that he once lived there.

Back in the 19th century, many of the poor were assisted out of poverty and given the chance of a new life in Canada thanks to the local rector. Also, many do not realise that a special kind of stone, Petworth Marble was mined from this area and made into all sorts of wonderful objects.

Of course, most visitors , if not travelling to see Petworth House, go to hunt around the abundance of antique shops that flank the roads or take refreshment inside the independent tea rooms. And lets not forget the beautifully restored old railway station that is now a fabulous bed and breakfast establishment with genuine Pullman Carriages to stay the night in.

A Walk Around Shrewsbury

I feel quite silly posting this very naive audio walk around the country town of Shropshire. I recorded this quite a few years ago when I first met my friend Harriet and together we took a stroll around the town. I now know so much more about Shrewsbury, its history, its people, the coaching inns, the castle and abbey. The second Bald Explorer video episode was shot there, although not really about the town as such. I do want to produce a more comprehensive video, episode and guide to the fascinating town. History oozes from the pavement in this place with its Elizabethan timber framed houses and grand Georgian parades.

Shropshire as a county is definitely worth exploring in more detail. It is one of those places that people have heard of but cannot always pinpoint. It is on the border with Wales in the west Midlands. Shrewsbury is only 15 miles from the Welsh hills and at one point in its history was considered to be the unofficial capital of Wales. The town had many skirmishes with either its neighbours or with the English people. The Battle of Shrewsbury (1403) took place just outside the town walls and was result of an uprising against the King, Henry IV and Harry Hotspur. It is where Prince Henry, of later Agincourt fame, received a wound on the cheek from an imbedded arrow head.

Author Ellis Peters based her famous detective monk, Cadfael, here at the Abbey. Charles Dickens stayed many times in the town at the Lion Hotel. Charles Darwin grew up here and much hated and despised Judge Jefferies went to school at what is now the town library.

Anyway, this is an early recording and one that introduced me to the town. I will be exploring more, of that I am certain.

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