Interesting Burials – All Saints Derby

I was at the Derbyshire County Archives today. I was looking for any records of black servants in Derby between 1700 and 1800. I started looking at the records for “All Saints” (Derby Cathedral). During my search I found one or two interesting burials. Well, I say Interesting, but I guess only if you enjoy history. If you do,  here they are.

All Saints Burials


  • Jan 28: Thomas Evat who was killed by a Tup (Male Sheep)
  • Nov.25: Buried in one coffin, William and Ann Drake
  • October 7th: Henry Joyce killed in a quarrel by a Butcher.

Feb16: Stanley Mappleby. An infant. Boy was a bastard, his mothers
name Yeomans, and she owned (sic)on her death bed.

May 4th: A stranger. Name unknown, a woman.

Oct 24: His Grace William Duke of Devonshire

April:  Buried Henry alsop an infant that escaped the fire. Bottom of Abby Bonny.

Buried Hannah Golling in her hundredth year.

Smallpox in Derby

I also noted that Smallpox outbreak killed several infants in this parish this year.  Over the years the parish saw a few priests but I was particularly struck by the beautiful handwriting. The words were exquisitely written and writing a whole sentence must have taken several minutes as each and every letter seemed to have been lovingly crafted.


Arbour Low Stone Circle

Arbour Low Stone Circle

Arbour Low Stone Circle

Arbour Low Stone Circle Walk

In early October 2012, I was driving around the Derbyshire Peak District, looking for Interesting places to visit. I was about a Mile or Two North of Newhaven, I came across a sign to Arbour Low. Arbour Low is a large Stone Circle, described by the English Heritage Website as “the most Important prehistoric site of the East Midlands”. I had always wanted to go and find it but had previously not made much effort to find it.

I vowed to return. Two weeks later, my friend and I headed up there. The stone circle is located just behind a modern farm. You can park your car and wander up past the farm house, which i believe is a guest house.  It only takes a few minutes to arrive at the stone circle, and I have to say it’s “bloody impressive”.

Derbyshire’s Stone Henge

The stones are all lying flat now but they are huge, and make the “Nine Ladies” stone circle on Stanton Moor seem miniature. This is a proper henge.  I took a few photos, which can be seen on my flickr account.

If you are staying in Tideswell and fancy seeing an Ancient Stone Circle and Burial mound, I have included this map to help you get there.

Tideswell Tunnels Part 4

Tunnels to Tideswell Church

This summer saw me kindle an interest in Tunnels under Tideswell.

If you have read any of my previous posts you will know how my investigations went. If you haven’t read the articles before here are they.

I decided that I needed to go and see the Vicar. After all, I needed an “official line” on the matter. I called the vicar and arranged a meeting. He was kind enough to meet me at his house, and we had a 30-minute chat. I was somewhat disappointed with the outcome

Discussing Tunnels under the church with Tideswell Vicar

Around 26 June 2012, I went back to Tideswell looking for the hidden tunnels which are rumoured to be underneath the village. I was told to go and see the vicar.   I contacted the vicar by telephone and arrange the meeting at his house.   He arranged to see me early in the early evening I was quite hopeful that he would be able to shed some
light on the many questions I had to ask him regarding tunnels under the church.

We sat down and I began to ask the vicar about the rumoured tunnel from the back of the church to Church St.  Sadly the vicar said that he did not have any information about tunnels.  Like everyone else,  he had heard rumours but did not put any stock in
them, as he had never found any evidence of the tunnel or documents
pertaining to tunnels. Next, I asked him about the small room that sits over the north door that sits over the south door of Tideswell Church.  As you enter Tideswell Church through the South door, (main entrance)  on the right there is a small door on the left.

Tideswell Church South door. (note windows to the small office)

Tideswell Church South door. (note windows to the small office)

It leads to a narrow staircase up to a small office.  I went into this office as a school pupil at Bishop Pursglove School. The room was full of documents and books that, however, was about some 30 years ago.

I don’t know how much things have changed but the vicar told me that the little secret office, that seemed so mysterious in the fog of my memory, had been recently cleared out and there was nothing in there. It was now used as a storeroom he assured me.

“What about the records, though, if they have been moved, where are they now?”  I pressed.

Any ecclesiastical records were now held at the public records office in Matlock, he rebuffed my renewed pressure off easily.   Naturally this was a disappointing conclusion to our meeting, however, he did tell me that if I wanted to go into the cellar behind the church that I should ask the caretaker to let me in.  He passed me the caretakers number, telling me that he would be on his rounds that evening, and with that, we parted. I dialled the caretakers’ number.

Looking for Tunnels Under Tideswell Church

Mr Robbinson agreed to meet me and we went around the back of the
church,  just in front of the Institute by the old grammar school. there is an opening leading to the boiler house cellar.  Mr Robinson produced a large bunch of keys and we went down into the cellar.

Tideswell Church Boiler House Cellar

Tideswell Church Boiler House Cellar

My interest in the cellar was kindled by other residents who told me that have been into the cellar and told me that they had seen a bricked up archway that was surely the tunnel entrance.  As you go down the steps on the right there is a disused coal bunker. On the left, there was evidence of a brick arch this may, at one time have gone under the lady chapel but it’s difficult to tell as it’s been plastered over.

This wall, has an alcove which point into the lady chapel

This wall, has an alcove which point into the lady chapel

The end of the Cellar

The end of the Cellar

The cellar itself contained the new boiler and evidence of an old boiler of which the pipework has not been fully removed.   The cellar itself was long probably about 12
foot in length and seven feet high.   The cellar had an arched ceiling, but I could see no firm evidence that was visible that there was an entrance to any tunnel.

Earlier that day,  I had been looking inside the church itself.  If you walk into the church, then turn down towards the pulpit and then take a left into the Lady Chapel you will see some very old pews.  Behind the first seat on these old pews, one of the backboards is missing. If you look carefully, You can see an opening which could be the top of an old door or archway.  If you put your arm down into the cavity you can feel the top of the opening or an arch. See my photo. It’s impossible to tell how big this cavity is.

Tideswell Church - Secret Tunnel?

Tideswell Church – Secret Tunnel? See the cavity?

I had hoped that by going into the cellar would allow me to get to this cavity and thus
see the entrance to a tunnel.  However, it seems that the boiler and
the boiler cellar are just to the right of the Lady Chapel.  In fact whilst I was in the cellar I noticed a grate that looks up into the lady chapel, but not in the right position to line up with the archway behind the pews.

from the cellar looking into the Lady chapel

from the cellar looking into the Lady chapel. You can see the pipes of the organ.

All in all the trip approved pretty fruitless.  In fact, a thorough, if an enlightening disappointment.

Possible Priest Hole Beneath The Star Inn, Tideswell

The next night evening, the proprietors of ‘The Star Inn the allow me into their cellar beneath the pub.  I had heard a rumour that one of the small cellars was at one
time a priest hole.

Landlord, Jerry showed me into the cellar and we looked all around.  There is very little evidence of the room being used for anything other than storage.

The star inn, small cellar

The star inn, small cellar

In truth though I’m not sure what I expected to find, in the cellar of a working pub. Once again dear friends.  The trail has gone cold.

To leave you with a drop of optimism in your hearts, I have heard from Miranda Pennock.  Miranda used to live at Devonshire House. (See Part 3) where I have already unsuccessfully looked for a tunnel.  She assures me there was a room which was a priest hole and that there was a tunnel and her father helped to block it up. I am hoping that we can meet and she might be able to show me exactly where the tunnel was.

blog comment

blog comment-light at the end of the tunnel?

I have it on good authority from two very trustworthy gentlemen, who have asked me not to mention their names.  That there was a tunnel of some sort unearthed when they dug the footings for what was the ex-Servicemen’s Club. One of these gents has been in the tunnel and even found a coin dating from 17xx.

So, there’s still some faint hope that we might discover something yet.  I know Sheffield University came out to do some surveys, I may well get in touch with them, and see if they fancy looking again. Watch this space.  Please leave me a comment below, tell me where to look and who I should speak to next.

Tunnels Under Tideswell Part 1 |  Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Tideswell Tunnels – Part 3

Recent Tidza Tunnel Developments.

Tideswell Tunnels took a new turn this week. I met a young man convinced of their existence, which spurred me on , as I had been somewhat downhearted about my lack of conclusive evidence. I have got several new lines of enquiry. Thing is, once I get started on something I never let it go.

However, I actually need the people of Tideswell to support me, and actively assist me in my research. It should be noted that I’m now encountering reluctancy to talk about the tunnels. However, it is my belief that they are there, so why the secrecy? Some people know more than they are letting on. Help me peeps. Let’s find these tunnels.

Is There A Secret Tunnell to Blake House?

I called at Blake House, I had previously pushed my letter of introduction through the door, the family who now owns the house were more than happy to have a chat.  The owner, Phil Dobbin, said that he was fascinated by the concept but hadn’t had a chance to investigate further.  Outside the house, at ground level, there is a small lintel. the stone directly underneath it was loose and we managed to pull it away, revealing a small cavity but noting that could be seen in detail.  Mr Dobbin, said he wanted to pull up the flags in the garden to investigate further, at some point.

Blake House Tideswell

Blake House Tideswell – Tunnell entrance or Coal Hole?

A Tunnel from Devonshire House to the Star?

Paul Harrison at Devonshire House dropped me a line to say that he had an archway in the bottom corner of his cellar that was worth investigating.  Oddly enough we had sat in the Star inn just a couple of weeks before chatting about Tideswell history. Odd then that his house should be a prime suspect for one with a tunnel.  I called around and both he and his wife Carrie were helpful and enthusiastic.

They let me down in the cellar and Paul showed me a small archway in the bottom right-hand corner.  It was quite unusual because there seemed to be no logical reason for an arch there.  It certainly wasn’t a coal chute because the coal chute was to the left. (unless the visible coal chute was added later).

Devonshire House is very old and I’m told that it was one of the King’s Larders, and the original George Pub at one time. The cellar has a vaulted ceiling and still has some old meat hooks hanging from it.   As you can see from the image I took on my phone, there is a clear arch.  The rubble in front of the arch apparently does down more than 6 ft. Paul said he tried to unearth it but got fed up.

My initial feelings are that this might have been some kind of soak-away or sough which drained water or “other liquid” down into the brook which would run a few yards in front of the house.  However, I have heard from three living people that there is definitely a tunnel at Devonshire House.  I just haven’t found it yet, I will though.


Devonshire House Tunnel?

A Tunnel From Eccles Hall To Blake House?

I drew a bit of a disappointing blank at Eccles Hall. After about ten minutes fighting with the latch on the gate, I managed to get in and finally catch the attention of the homeowner.  I explained who I was and that I was searching for the hidden tunnels in Tideswell.  The lady who owns the house told me that she “wanted there to be a tunnel but there just isn’t”.

She also informed me that Eccles Hall and Blake House were built at different times so the myth that Samuel Eccles was visiting his lover in Blake House via tunnel was bunkem.   However, this is at odds with the testimony of one living women in the Village who told me that she has been into a tunnel located in the cellar at Eccles Hall.  Someone is clearly mistaken.

Tunnels behind The Shambles

I called to See Claire Fisher, who lives at The Shambles, you may recall part two of Tideswell Tunnels showed the details Philip Swarbrick had given me regarding a tunnel there.  Claire was enthusiastic, but sadly an inspection of her cellar area (now converted) into living quarters revealed nothing.  Philip’s description matched perfectly though. So I have stood at the exact spot where the Tunnel is meant to be, but it’s been bricked up and plastered over, so if there’s a way into it, it would have to be out in the yard.

Tideswell’s Tindalls Tunnels

Finally, although not directly related to Tunnels, I approached Tindalls and Chris Ashton, was good enough to let me look at the images he and his wife took of the cellar before it was closed off, and the shop refurbished.

I did ask to go down in the cellar but that wasn’t possible at the time due to the manhole cover sticking and Mr Ashton not wanting to break his floor tiles by prying it up.  Fair enough.  He told me that he’s seen no evidence of a tunnel but was kind enough to explain all the changes to the building and let me copy this brilliant photo of a small cellar room, which, I  guess was used for salting meat at one time or another.

Tindalls Cellar Tideswell

Tindalls Cellar Tideswell

I do hope that you are enjoying reading my posts about the quest for tunnels. There is, I assure you a lot more information to come. I’m working on it, and will post it all here as and when I get a chance.   Let me leave you with a question:

Tunnels Under Tideswell Part 1 |  Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Do you believe there are Tunnels in Tideswell? if so, where and what makes you believe.

Please leave a comment below, if you know anything or just have an opinion.

Retro Video features Tideswell

A tour of Tideswell, Derbyshire Retro Film

Showing its limestone hills, its church and buildings, and the locals who work in the quarry.

NOTE: This film has a French soundtrack.

Release year 1944 Director A. Reginald Dobson Production company G.B. Instructional CinematographerJack Parker Running time (minutes)09 mins 46 secs SupervisorG.J. Cons
Original Description
‘This film describes an upland settlement, Tideswell in the Derbyshire hills. Tideswell is built of local limestone, and many of its inhabitants work in neighbouring stone quarries. A hillside stream supplies power for the mills. Farms are mixed, but there is less arable land than pasture; sheep and cattle thrive on the upland pasture.’
(Films of Britain – British Council Film Department Catalogue – 1946)

The quarry featured in the film is now the Miller’s Dale Quarry nature reserve.
Working titles for the film included ‘Upland Settlement’ or ‘Upland Village’, in keeping with other films in the ‘Human Geography’ series, such as Lowland Village and Coastal Village.

Derbyshire Village (1944) from British Council Film on Vimeo.

Tunnels under Tideswell

Any Tideswellian knows that there are Tunnels under the village. However, it seems that in living memory the number of people who have actually been down into these tunnels is few and far between.

For whatever reason, it is a topic that has fallen from the collective memory of the village.

Why might there Be Tunnels under the village?

I remember reading as a boy that there was a tunnel from Blake House to Eccles Hall. It was in the little blue book that every Tideswell family seemed to have “A History of Tideswell by  W. Walker; 1951.

In addition to this there was always talk of a tunnel that led from Tindalls Shop to the Church opposite. Tindalls used to serve as a Gaol, long before it was utilised as a bakery.

Then I heard that there was….

  • A Tunnel from the Church to Church Avenue, number 1 or number 2.
  • A Tunnel from Swarbricks shop to Tindalls
  • A Tunnel / Priest hole in the Star which might go to the Vicarage or Blake House
  • A Tunnel from the Church to Wheston
  • A Tunnel from the Church to Monksdale.
Tideswell Tunnels

Tideswell Tunnels

Tunnels under Tidza Video

With all these supposed Tunnels, it’s a wonder Tidza doesn’t collapse into a subterranean labyrinth.  So  I raised the question via You Tube and the Facebook Group “Tideswell People”.

Tunnels under Tideswell

So again, I say to you, good people of Tideswell.  Where are these Tunnels, and if you have access to one, can I come and photograph it…or its blocked up entrance?  I want to get into these tunnels if possible.  Tideswell deserves to know its history.

Tunnels Under Tideswell Part 1 |  Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Time to wake up

Free your Mind!

Sometimes I wonder, is it just me, am I paranoid, or is everyone else asleep? On the face of it, It’s a simple one to answer. Everyone else isn’t asleep. There are many, many people around with greater intelligence than I will ever possess.

So, given that rather obvious fact, I need to ask myself, what is it that causes me to be so cynical? Why do I find it impossible to rub along with the rest of em, and accept my lot in life?

Questioning your role in society

Perhaps I’m questioning my own role in life, or perhaps I’m questing my own inability to slot in, and enjoy the slotting in? Whatever it is, I get the daily sensation that other people either find it easy to slot in and I’m a freak.   Or it could be that I’m not meant to slot in, and, by not slotting in I’m going to reap some kind of benefit from my refusal to follow the crowd.

What I mean by this is,  : “I don’t buy into the system“,

  • I don’t buy into what I’m being told by the media. 
  • I don’t buy into the corporate bulletins I get at work.
  • To me it’s all bullshit and I can see it, I see it clearly.
  • Do other people not see it? 

Or, perhaps is it as I expect, that other people do see it they simply choose not to do anything about it.

Caught in the Rat Race

Why exactly is that? maybe it’s as many wise old blokes told me in the past, that “you can’t fight the system”. Or perhaps it’s just because although many people see the flaws in the system,  they are caught up in it and therefore choose to keep their head down to pay the mortgage.  By doing so, they believe they might just manage to get themselves a rung higher on the ladder.

With regard to the media, I see people on Facebook furiously posting their opposition or approval to world events, and again I wonder why do people go for it? I honestly don’t believe the majority of what is printed or reported.

It’s not that I  believe that these events  aren’t happening, but I don’t believe we are getting the full picture. Propaganda has gotten to the point now where it is almost impossible to separate facts from stage managed orchestrated “false flag” events.

Whilst there will be those who say it is,  isn’t paranoia on my part, there is plenty of evidence out there to show that things aren’t quite what they seem.

I’m not going to list events, because you may already have your opinion. Simply do your own research If you are interested.  If you can relate to any of the points I’m making.

People’s Revolution or Homogenous worldview events?

As a starting point, try Googling the revolution in Serbia. There is some evidence to show that this so called revolution was orchestrated by a P.R company OTPOR who received funding from the American government.

Take a good look at their logo, then google the logo for revolution in Libya, Ukraine, Egypt, Yemen etc. This isn’t the people rising up, this is the people being stirred up to create western, oil friendly regime change.

So when “despotic dictators” like Mugabe, or Kim Jong il, or Assad kill their own people brutally, what they claim to be doing doing is removing the instigators and colluders of foreign plots who are in fact trying to cause instability in their countries. We hear if Differently.  But what is the REAL truth?

Don’t get me wrong, these leaders are clearly evil bastards with questionable morals but you don’t rule with a rod of iron for years to chuck it away because a few folk start waving placards about. These leaders know they cannot fight the power of America Militarily but they can act within their own borders, because sovereign countries are largely untouchable when acting within their own borders.

Iran for example, did you hear about the stealth drone that the Iranians have supposedly captured last week?

Do you suppose that has happened by accident? Maybe you do…but my question is why did the American govt not self destruct the lost drone? The answer is fairly clear to me, it provides them with more “evidence” and a clean motive to attack Iran.

Iran are on the verge of developing nuclear technology, the West do not want Iran to have that technology and many commentators state publicly that it’s more a case of WHEN the West attacks Iran, as opposed to IF they attack.

So, when I see these so called revolutions,  I don’t buy it.
I’m not going to buy it, ever, because we are being controlled, we are being brainwashed.
You don’t like that supposition, but it’s the truth.

How many of you have enjoyed watching your SKY TV this Christmas?

Every time you turn that shit on, you line the pockets of Rupert Murdoch, one of the worlds most powerful businessmen, who, as we saw this summer (2012) had government’s quaking in their boots for fear of negative publicity. Yet this is the guy who runs News Corporation, “think Phone Hacking“, “Think Levisson”, and what’s been done about it?

I don’t buy into everything I’m spoon fed because we have seen from World Wars and the NATO bombing of Belgrade and Baghdad, that civilian lives are expendable.

As long as resources and geographical strategic strongholds are secured, and the rich are safe in their ivory towers, the rest of us had better keep our heads down and not rock the boat.

Our home countries are already beginning to enforce the will of the few on the many. CCTV is everywhere, electronic tracking, phone hacking. Petrol Prices, Speed Cameras, public sector cuts etc are all a part of a wider moves to make life more difficult for the common man and to take away his ability to react and fight back.  Yet it’s all packaged up as ways to help you.

I’m sure many of you are rolling your eyes right now, but let me point out two or three good examples form America, you’ll need to look these things up.

1) Fema Camps
2) Hurricane Katrina Landgrab
3) Police using Predator Drones

If governments can be removed so easily, how long is it before it’s your country that requires lockdown?
And believe me, YOU are expendable.

It’s time to wake up now people, it really is time to wake up!

It’s not that Black or White…

Mixed Race

Mixed Race

Republished from

I often think that my mixed heritage gives me a fantastic advantage of speaking about race issues.  A perspective that sometimes I feel neither Black or White people can truly understand.

Looking in the mirror every day as a child and wondering where my brown features came from was a particularly hard thing to grapple with but apart from one time in infancy, I don’t ever remember being troubled by my ethnicity. Quite the opposite in fact, I always felt proud of who I am, despite not having much actual detail about my origins.

I was born to a White woman in the 1970’s, my Black father has never been a part of my life. I was adopted from Manchester and went to live in the Derbyshire countryside with a loving, childless, working class White couple. Despite the obvious pitfalls that would follow. My early life was great.

Being one of the only kids with a drop of colour in the area certainly provided it’s challenges. My adoptive parents, who are the only parents I have ever known faced the normal whispering campaign by the village gossips and bigots but on the whole people were supportive of their decision to take in a “coloured” child.

I always had plenty of friends to play with, but there were experiences that revealed the racism engrained in English society in the Seventies and Eighties.

Racist 80s
Some of the nicknames I had were Choccy, Coony, and Chalky. Seriously, this seems unreal now, but the number of mixed race guys I have met over the years who were also dubbed “Chalky” after the Jim Davison character “Chalky White”.

Although my parents tried their best to protect me from this name calling, there was a limit to what they could do. At the time I was so woefully ignorant of the true meaning of these slurs. Yet I honestly believe that the kids who called me
these names, were too. These were names picked up from the culture of their parents.
Comedians such as Jim Davidson and Bernard Manning were popular in those days and “Black Jokes” were part of the “comedy” landscape. I bore it all, until puberty.

I have, like many people suffered racism, and like many mixed race people, I have suffered discrimination at the hands of Black, White and Asian people. I probably have too many experiences of racism to go into here, but indulge me, whilst I present to you a few of the ones that stick in the mind, for your examination.

  • One School report day, my mum sat me down to discuss my distinctly average grades. Almost every class report said, Philip is intelligent , he refuses to apply himself. My mum told me that one of the Teachers had said to her “Negroes are naturally indolent, they need to be pushed at every turn”.
  • Aged about 12 I was hanging around at the other end of the village and this little kid came up to us and was chatting to us, he let me sit on his bike. I was cycling round and round in circles and suddenly his dad came running out into the garden bare chested. Saw me on the bike and shouted “get off that bike, you Black Bastard“. Naturally, stunned I jumped off the bike, dashed it to the floor and flipped him the bird and shouted “up yours” before sprinting off before retribution was visited.
  • Like so many Black and mixed race kids my age, I had no reason to love the police in the 80’s. Aged 14, I was cycling my Bike through the Village of Bradwell, suddenly a cop car past me and pulled me over. I faced a barrage of questions such as “Where are you from”, “what’s your name” , “whats your name?…”where are you from?”, “who’s bike is that?”, “where did you buy it?”, “whats your name again?”.After explaining several times who I was, and that I was from the next village, the cop let me go on my way. when I asked him why pulled me up, he told me that a bike fitting the description had been stolen from the area, but I know that was a croc of lies, because he never even took the frame number, it was just intimidation, plain and simple.
  • In Junior School I was something of a wimp, but I was turning 11, when something clicked in me. I had decided that I wasn’t going to take racism anymore, because I knew that if I didn’t start standing up for myself, I’d be in trouble when I got to high school.One sunny afternoon I was strolling around the village when I was challenged by another boy, who was in fact, a year younger than me to get off the path. In fact his words were “move Choccy!” , I just laughed and said, “No, you move.” this went on for a few minutes before we resolved to settle this like men at one o’clock on the corner of the street. He went and spread the word, lots of the older kids came down on their bikes, I’m sure they thought he was gonna beat me up, he had a reputation for being a hardnut.

    That day the worm turned. I battered that kid, in fact he only landed one punch in the whole fight and that was when I was trying to pull my coat off, because I’d gotten too hot from punching him repeatedly. He didn’t know my Dad had taught me a load of boxing moves. That day things largely changed forever. High School was a breeze and I had respect.

Changing 90’s 

When I was around 16/17 I used to go drinking in the Ex-Servicemans Club. It was a Private Members Club and you could be a member at 16. There were these two blokes, who used to go in there who would just sit and abuse me. They were in their mid 20’s and I was just a skinny 17 yr old so the best I could do was give them some verbal back.

Years later I walked into the George Hotel, and was having a drink when I spotted one of these Idiots sitting in the pool room, he was clearly drunk, so I thought I’d have a word. Bear in mind that I was about 24 at this point and I’d filled out considerably. I strolled over to him and said “Hello there, ….”. “oh, hello mate” he said. Well that was it, red rag to a bull time! I started shouting at him, “Dont you want to call me Nigger, or Coon , or Wog? “its mate now is it? , I’ve a good mind to smash you all over this place! ” He started protesting his innocence and a few other people intervened. It was totally worth it to see the cowardly reaction he gave though without the backup of his mate.

You see so many of these racists had clearly identified me as being diferent to them, simply by the colour of my skin, to them I was Black. Yet conversely, many Black people I have known have sneered at me or frowned upon me for being “too White”.

In the late 90’s I was at University, I had a wide social circle that included people from Norway to Nigeria, Greece to Ghana. When meeting some of the Black guys for the first time they would all greet me with the stereotypical Black handshake which consisted of a hand grasp, then sliding the fingers, then a thumb lock and flick/click of the fingers or a gimme five motion.

The maddening thing was that no two guys ever seemed to do the same shake. They always looked at me with suspicion when I couldn’t do it. You see, that despite being heavily interested in Black politics and left wing movements, I’d had little contact with Black people on the whole. Years later in Africa, I had no such experience, no African I met in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia or Mozambique greeted me in the same way as the Black guys at Uni. Instead of regarding me with suspicion they treated me like a long lost brother.

Other examples of my “Whiteboyness” came at a Jamaican wedding, my first one. I didn’t know any of the dance steps. Everyone else in the room did.. I prayed for the ground to eat me up, I dropped out, my girlfriend at the time was cringing and I can’t remember feeling so alone in a crowd. Even eating the food was an issue. What man doesn’t like “Curry Goat” , but Pigs foot? No, I wasn’t up for eating a pigs foot and again, I stood out from the crowd.

Over the years I have received both plaudits and criticism from Black people over the creation of this site my motives for creating it. I have been told I’m “Not Black”. My answer is I’m not White either, and I look Black, and have been treated the same way you have. I have also pointed out that had I been living in America, or Apartheid South Africa, I would have been treated as a Black person. It bought little creedance.

You see, the thing with being mixed race in Britain is that you STILL don’t actually fully fit in anywhere. My point of view is that people of all colours need to know the struggles of peoples of African Descent, before anyone can truly begin to understand that the colour of a persons skin does not wholly define them. It is merely a part of their identity. Culture and experience actually count for much more than a superficial marker like skin colour.

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A Trip to Little Moreton Hall

Little Moreton Hall

Little Moreton Hall

We took a trip over the Cheshire border yesterday to Little Moreton Hall.  I had passed this place many many times without really realising that it was open to the public.  As we arrived We were greeted by nice friendly helpful staff.

As you first glance at the house it seems completely crooked and unstable.  It is however a stunning example of Tudor building and you feel sure that it will be interesting to simply enter it.

The house a small moat running all the way around it, which is home to ducks and large fish. As you cross the bridge into the courtyard you can see just how many small extensions the house has had, and marvel at the skill of the Tudor craftsmen who created it.

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Today the house is owned and managed by the National Trust. NT membership is great value for money if you live in the midlands, because there are lots of local attractions to visit.  As well as looking round the house we stayed for lunch and The restaurant is to be recommended.  The staff are polite and helpful, they were efficient in taking the order and the food arrived quickly.  Most importantly though, it was delicious and healthy.

Little Moreton Hall: National Trust Website


Lady Manners School – The Peacock 1989-90

The Fifth year seems to be agreed that this year has been extremely uneventful: comments include, ‘It was too boring to think about.’ Is it that GCSE work was so uninteresting? Lotty Walker certainly found that Maths needed a little livening up, so spent lessons improving her group’s education-One of her pearls of wisdom was that if you have hairy arms you are likely to go places!

Lack of interest was again demonstrated, this time by Chris Ledger, who turned up forty minutes late for his GCSE English exam, having overslept. Jenny Holliday found a more dramatic excuse for missing her French oral – she dislocated her knee.

Getting out of lessons has been a popular occupation this year. Claire Askew left Biology via the window, while Mrs Barnes, in her haste to exit from the fifth year RE lesson, pulled the door off its hinges!

Amidst all the panic of approaching GCSEs, several people stand out as a deserving mention. William Pearson’s notable achievement lay in being caught smoking in the toilets no less than nine times during two terms.  Simon Kwiecinski was rather controversially said to the year’s biggest poser.  All were unanimous that Daniel Spencer is the nicest person: it was remarked that if he found a flea he would give it to a dog.

Maturity seems to have gone to the wall in the case of Richard Beals, who repeated his first year exploit of being shut in a cupboard.  Greg Essex-Lopresti, on the other hand, seemed to have taken a short-cut to the sixth form, as he spent all year questioning Mrs Fussey about ‘A’ Level Chemistry problems.

The year ended memorably with cream fights in dinner and tearful (or Joyful) farewells at four. The final comment, however, has to come from the staff.  One furious teacher was heard to say, during the last week before exams began, “He shouldn’t even be making dental appointments at this time of year, not unless his teeth are actually rotting…..and that’s far too much activity to be going on inside his head”.

Old Stoke on Trent – Pot Banks and Bottle Kilns

This Picture shows Dimmocks Works, this was in Hanley at the top of Picadily where C&A used to be.  think theres a bingo hall there now.  Culture eh?

This is Tyfords Cliff Vale Works, Only the two kilns closest to the canal (left side) still remain today.

Bell Pottery was on Bethesda St, Situated in the gardens next to the Museum

A Smokey Potteries shot

Cliff vale Again, today the facade of the old works has been converted to flats called Lock 38

Above you see the Spode works, with its large white frontage. (Right) 
Note the numerous bottle kilns all packed in behind. Now look at a more recent satelite photo.

The road layout has hardly changed but all the kilns are gone
Much of the land that was factory is now just car parks.

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Potteries in Decline Pt2

14.68 miles

I took my camera out again today with the aim of photographing the Bottle kilns in the south side of the City. Here are a few of the shots I took.

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Bottle Kilns – Stoke on Trent

I took these photos from my mobile phone as I was cycling along the Trent and Mersey Canal. I love the iconic shape of the bottle Kiln, it makes me sad to know there were once around 2000 in the city and now only 47 remain.

To see more of my Stoke photos see my flickr account.

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Black Knights in Europe

Ever heard of the Black Knight? No, I don’t mean that unfunny film with Martin Lawrence in it. I mean “The black Knight”? Did you ever stop to think where the tale of the black knight came from?

Well, many historians have dismissed the stories as a knight who had a black banner, or the knight who wore black armour, or the knight who had black hair. The truth is these men probabally all were known as the black knight. Afterall surely they coul’nt mean African knights, because there weren’t any Africans in medieval Europe right? Wrong!

whilst there may not have been armies of African knights charging around Europe in the middle ages there are noted examples which deserve further scrutiny.

Africans were first described in medieval texts as descriptions of “moorish invaders of southern Europe became popular. Whilst the majority of the Moslems who invaded Souther Europe would of been of North African Stock there would certainly have been a high percentage of miced race warriors and Black Sub saharan Africans too.

These images attest to the fact that some of the Moorish invaders were indeed of African descent.

As well as invaders, Africans featured as heros and even saints in Medieval Europe. These images show Saint Maurice. We cannot be sure that Maurice was actually of African origin but Maurice is derived from the name “Moor” and he was the leader of the Roman “Theban” Legion. Thebes being one of the Principle Cities in ancint Eygypt. Maurice has been depicted as an african since the 12th century, however with the african slave trade coming to prominence around the 16th century such images ceased to be the norm around that time onwards.

The moors even appear the tales of King Arthur, even though these are now proven to be fictional writings one of Arthurs knights was called Morien, again derived from “Moor”.

My final image shows “A black knight and his Lady” . I have tried unsuccessfully to find the source for this image. It was part of a clipping I collected years ago. I think it may be a reference to King James of Scotland around 1507. James had several Africans in his court, and held a tournament in honour of one of the black maidens known as Ealenor. This image may bear reference to it. If you know different please inform me.

So, as you see the reference to the black knight isn’t quite as light hearted as you may have previously thought. It is deep rooted in the history and mythology of Europe.


Saint Maurice:
Journal of Negro History:
Theban Legion:

Unnamed site:

Google Search terms: africans in medieval europe

The Mysterious Merman House

Merman House - Tideswell

Merman House – Build by Ben Gregory in Tideswell

Some of you may remember that I found out some interesting stuff about Merman House in Tideswell. For those of you who do not remember, a relative of mine, Ben Gregory won a large sum of money by betting on  horse called ‘Merman’.   He used the winnings to build Merman House.

Merman belonged to Lily Langtree

A former occupier of the house contacted me and told me that the Horse belonged to the famous actress of the day. Actress, Lily Langtree.

Apparently this horse was RED HOT and won a hell of a lot of money for a lot of people. I found some old articles about it in the “New York Times“.

I first wrote this post in 2009, and it’s taken me four years to find an image of Merman.

Merman - Lily Langtrees Horse

Merman After winning the Gold Cup in 1900

Previously, I had only been able to locate a photo of Merman’s Father, ‘Grand Flaneur’.

“Grand Flaneur was Mermans Father He sired the Melbourne Cup winners Patron, Bravo, and at least 13 other major performers including Merman who was sent to England to win the 1900 Ascot Gold Cup, and also won the Goodwood Cup, Jockey Club Cup and Cesarewitch Handicap.”