Saturday, 13 October 2012

Coming Over All Piratickal



Sunny and rainy and then sunny again and just the sort of day for a wander around interesting but somewhat less picturesque parts of Bristol, made beautiful by the skies and the light.  Lucky, then, that there was one organised by the Long John Silver Trust, and with added authors too as it was being held under the banner of the Bristol Festival of Literature.  

And so along with the usual selection of 17th century pirates and privateers,  of which, I'm afraid, Bristol nurtured many, we had Daniel Defoe and Jonathan Swift; Coleridge, Wordsworth and Southey; and, of course, Robert Louis Stevenson.  

Our guide was Mark Steeds, pub landlord and member of the Radical History Group, so it wasn't long before we were immersed in the story of the slave trade and its eventual abolition, in which episode the pub 'The Seven Stars' played an important role.  


Here's Mark explaining how the Reverend Thomas Clarkson came to the pub in 1787 and started to put together evidence later passed onto William Wilberforce to support the Act for the Abolition of Slavery.  In order to do this dangerous work, Clarkson, an educated gentleman, disguised himself as a miner.  So tenacious was her that Coleridge described him as 'the Moral Steam-Engine, or the Giant with one idea'. 



After the Seven Stars, we made our way to Redcliff Quay, where we saw a beautiful sculpture entitled 'Exploration'.  It's one of several celebrations of our sea-faring heritage, though I have to say that this is probably my favourite.  The obelisk part is by Philippa  Threlfall and is called 'The Unknown Deep'.  It's topped by a steel armillary sphere which functions as a sundial.


I just loved this mediaeval-style bestiary, which reminded me of my lovely Barum Ware pots at home and also those outlandish fish from the very depths of the ocean.  


Then to Castle Park for a potted history of the mediaeval centre of our city, so tragically lost one full moon in November 1942.  The trees were starting to smoulder today, almost 70 years later, as if in remembrance. 



Peter Randall-Page's sculpture 'Beside the Still Waters', with temporary installation of fallen leaves, and King Street with rainbow.

Three more stops opposite the Rummer, the Llandoger Trow and in Queen Square and our tour ended outside the Hole-In-The-Wall, upon which Robert Louis Stevenson's depiction of the Spy Glass is based.  I can only conclude, therefore, that writers and pirates share a love of pubs.  Anyhow, in the 18th century, this was a very popular watering-hole with sailors, and subject to surprise raids by both Customs and Excise and press gangs.  Hence the spy holes so that a view both up and down the street could be obtained. Arr. We'm not daft.  
  

1 comment:

  1. that light was something, wasn't it? -love that first photo!

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