The Bedham Mission Church

The UK is filled with strange oddities. Take for example the red-brick remains of a roofless church in West Sussex tucked away in a small hamlet called Bedham. Once home to woodcutters and charcoal burners the woodland is now a nature reserve open to the public. The tiny community that lived here for generations after generations eked an existence from the land in the shadow of trees and the nearby market town, Petworth.

Religion of one faith or another has always brought people together. Long before the days of modern thinking, transportation and social media, a place of worship was the hub of the community. In the late nineteenth century the Anglican Church came to Bedham providing ministry to the rural inhabitants and education to their children.

Now, isolated and standing decaying in not much more than tumbled down bricks are the remains of the school and church. The shell of a building looks out of place. The Bald Explorer goes to investigate.

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Lost Battlefields of London

Every now and then someone sends me an email to say they have a great idea or subject for the Bald Explorer. Sadly, I am not always able to follow up these ideas because the location is too far away or the cost to make such a show, for me at the moment, too prohibitive. On other occasions, I get in touch with someone I happened to have spotted either on a website or via Twitter that takes my fancy.

Robert Bard is one such person I am meeting up this week to discuss a possible collaboration on an episode about the lost battlefields of London. His book, Lost Battlefields of London, I believe recently published, gives a terrific insight to numerous key places where fatal disputes have played out between the Crown and aggressor over the years from the Roman era to the First World War.

Robert obviously has a healthy interest in death, destruction and conflict in our capital city, having written a number of books the subject, including a search for the plague pits, lost graveyards, the Tyburn Tree (the site at Marble Arch where many a felon was hanged, often dragged from Newgate Prison on a hurdle and later disemboweled and hacked to pieces and distributed either around London or the country), and other places of execution.

Looking at his profile on Amazon, it tells us: Robert Bard PhD was born in London, 1956. The author attended University of Liverpool, then preferring something glamorous to work, he became an airline pilot. After a number of years discovering that it was actually hard work, he went into the family confectionery manufacturing company where he remained until 1990.

He has also written a number of local history books about the towns close to where he lives in North London.

I have yet to tackle a Bald Explorer episode in the capital city. There is so much to explore it has been a difficult decision to know where to start. Filming on such busy streets is also a problem, especially when it comes to recording sound. Having tried to shoot a few pieces here in the past, I have been surprised by the deafening noises from pedestrians, trains, buses, taxis and aeroplanes. That is not to say it is impossible – there are plenty of TV shows that are based in the great city and they do not have problems.

Stories obviously abound and it is knowing which to concentrate on within the limited 45 minute format that the Bald Explorer series takes. With the help of an expert on hand to guide me to the sites of old battles, I am sure we shall manage. I am fascinated to see where, for example, Wat Tyler was beheaded at the end of the Peasants Revolt of 1381, the bloody battle for London Bridge took place during the rebellion of Jack Cade in 1450 and learn more about the plundering and burning of Newgate Prison during the Gordon Riots of 1780.

London’s Lost Battlefields is a great introduction to gory events that took place on the Capital’s streets (not really forgotten) but often lost from our minds as we rush about trying to get from important meeting to new exhibition when visiting London. Many of the original buildings have disappeared or have been rebuilt over the past 2000 years and so you need to bring your imagination with you as you follow in the footsteps and picture the struggles that went on in our glorious and impressive past. It is a super book and has some cracking photographs too to help you explore these macabre sites.

You can purchase Robert Bard’s book, London’s Lost Battlefields by following this link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Londons-Lost-Battlefields-Robert-Bard/dp/1781552487/ref=la_B0034Q983W_1_1/279-3321448-2869943?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1384156505&sr=1-1

Humphrey Kynaston – A Highwayman in his Cave!

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.

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.

Download as Podcast.

Podcast: A walk over the Black Mountains

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.

I hope you enjoy our little podcast.

Download as Podcast.

Meet Andrew White – A fellow video maker

Work had cause to take me up north for some video productions and I took the opportunity to meet up with a fellow video producer who like me interested in walking. He enjoys both disciplines so much that he decided to combine the two into one and now produces the excellent Walks Around Britain website. He claims to run the only walking videos website in the UK and it is worth checking out if you love great landscapes and enjoy the British countryside.

Andrew and I met up the other day and decided to have a stroll around a wonderful country mansion close to Doncaster called Cusworth Hall. To make the event a little more memorable we decided to record a podcast in which we discuss our love of walking, history, film making and more. If you have an hour, why not join us and find out all about Andrew and his walking videos and the elegant Georgian mansion and it’s three lakes sculpted by the infamous Lancelot Capability Brown.

Download as Podcast.

Check out the Walks Around Britain website.