The highwayman Humphrey Kynaston was a bit of a Robin Hood character – robbing the rich to give to the poor. But who was he and where did he live?
I am the Bald Explorer, from UK television’s Community Channel and I am on the trail of this notorious blackguard. He had a fortified manor house in the village of Myddle in Shropshire, but at the beginning of the 15th Century he was outlawed for murdering a man and was forced to live in a cave.
Follow the other explorations of Richard Vobes as he goes around Britain in search of its myths and legends, history and heritage. Travel the UK and visit some of the places in the films he makes.
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.
As part of the research for the latest Bald Explorer episode I went to see how a lock was drained and new gates were inserted and other parts repaired. This is part of the winter stoppage programme. Each year, during the cold season when most traffic has died down, parts of the canals are closed off so that restoration and maintenance can be carried out. This is important work and is carried out by experienced workmen from the Canal and River Trust.
I popped along to the Welshpool Lock open day. I wanted to grab some shots for the next video production and learn a little about the Welsh side of the Canal and River Trust and the work they do. I cobbled a little video from some of the rushes to put up on the site so others might also find out a bit about the on going work.
Welshpool is in Powys, Wales and the navigation is the Montgomery Canal. It was great to see so many people interested in the drained lock and having the chance to descend down into the bottom. I was quite surprised to see the incredibly well persevered state of the brickwork. It is over 200 years old and still going strong.
The new Bald Explorer programme about the canals system in England and Wales will be on the Community Channel in January 2013.
Find out more about the Canal and Rivers Trust here: Website
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.
Recently, Harriet, my walking friend and I, took a trip to Hay on Wye to explore the town and its famous bookshops. Before we got there, we decided to take have a walk over the famous Black Mountains and record a podcast.
I couldn’t find a reason way this range of hills as so known, other than that John Leland made reference to them and used this name back in the 16th century. I figured it had something to do with the fact that as the sun passes to the south of them, if you were standing in the Midlands in England, the silhouette so caused would make them seem black. It is not a convincing argument, but it is all I have to offer.
The mountain range itself is part of the Brecon Beacons area in Wales, above Monmouthshire in Powys and close to the border with England and the county of Herefordshire. It is a beautiful spot to escape the pressures and stresses of life and if you like to climb up to get views of fabulous British countryside, then this is as good as any that I could recommend.