Brian and Margaret are frequenters of Crouch Hill and nearby Salt Way when walking their dog, Elvie. They are also local historians and members of the local Banbury Historical Society . Brian writes a weekly column for the print edition of local weekly newspaper Banbury Guardian.
Brian had arranged to come up the hill, sit in the tent and talk about the history of Crouch Hill and its historical importance to the town. However, the weather had been so wet that access to the summit was very slippery and both Brian and Margaret had recently had accidents, falling; so we decided it was wiser to stay in the house!
I broke the chat into streams of around 15 minutes to see if this had any effect on audience. There was what has become a common feeling of local and global communities joining. Some of the names on the stream were familiar; Andrea from Asturias, who I shared my cycling memories with, in an earlier post was there.
Again, someone from Blackpool recognised my username as having a specific reference to the area. This has happened at least twice before; I get drawn into a chat about which school I went to and which hospital I was born in!!!
This brings a strange and lovely personal context to the Broadcast for me and hopefully other viewers, the way that communities collide and merge in an open network……
The conversation ranged from some of the more general history, contemporary residential developments along the Salt Way, archaeological investigations prior to building and the controversy surrounding them.
Brian also told a story of a birdwatching trip to the Battlefield of Edgehill site several years ago with local naturalist, Ernie Bingham and a follow-up ‘ security’ visit from the local ‘Copper’!
We looked through his extensive collection of books and he spoke about how the top of the hill was created artificially and that a local legend says that ” the Devil dropped it there…. on his way to the nearby church in Bloxham” ( if my memory serves me right!)
During the chat I mentioned Alfred Beesley’s History of Banbury ( 1841). I hadn’t wanted to read in the official archives held in Oxford or Banbury libraries for this work.
My methodology is of re-mediation through people as agents, so it was a marvellous coincidence when Margaret said she had her own copy and went off to the shelves to get it.
That couldn’t have happened if we had managed to climb the hill!
Then she described Chap Books, which were small, cheap, simple books and on the streets to individuals and travelling sellers called Chapmen; who also sold bootlaces, ribbons, lace,seeds and spices etc. in the 17th to the 19th century .
Chap books were were flimsy, ephemeral and passed from hand to hand with a readership mainly the poor. They served like broadsheets, ballads, and long songs, covering a very wide range of topics from fairy tales to news of politics. She had some re-prints with short verses describing the extreme Puritan views held in Banbury and also the books printed by Banbury printers, Rusher (whose poem I read from at the very beginning of this stage of my research, Reading William Rusher #Crouch Hill)
Brian also talked about some more recent activities on the hill including Steeplecashing and sledging which still continues…my younger son broke his foot doing just that !
We were joined, not just by the Periscope community, but also my son in a notification about his Amazon Prime account!
Another tender mix of the production of simultaneous, intimate and global space through contingent social interaction within a re-animated past.
As I walked away from their house in the dull, damp weather I could see Crouch Hill with it’s distinctive summit from the ‘end of their road’…..