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Just Another Amongst Many Crimes

Not for the first time, ‘Swift Nicks’ Nevison recently found himself unable to get to his fine horse Nutmeg, what with the constables and watchmen of the hue and cry closing in on him. Luckily, he found an equally fine horse to steal and made off as best he could.

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Unluckily, the horse was unsaddled when he took her, so after burdening her long enough to escape his pursuers, he thought it best to dismount and lead her. He knew exactly where he could steal a saddle. Before he got there a strangely armed man attempted to interfere with his progress, but Nevison saw him off in the usual, tried and tested, manner!

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This is a still from the filming I did a little over a week ago, near Hey Green, near Marsden. I’ve been back since with the two boys as it was such a marvellous place I wanted them to see it too. The filming was for the Milestones Society, a charity running a project called Finding the Way. To find out more please see their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FindingtheWay.org.uk/.

Meanwhile, if you want to know more about my Nevison the highwayman character (who will be hiding in a school on Accrington tomorrow) then please click on – Swift Nicks Nevison.

The Great Experiment is a Success!

After a long time in the making, my Time Traveller version of Sir William Petty is at last ready for schools. He’s been gently tested twice at Skipton Castle, tweaked, then dropped in at the deep end (of time?) in a Halifax school a couple of weeks ago, where I worked with the whole school, concentrating on Key Stage 2.

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As I develop him further I will come up with formats for differing age groups and numbers of classes. I envisage he will work with anything from one class to the whole school, rather like my pirate character. The fewer the classes, however, the more each individual child will get out of their interaction with the character.

All of my other characters believe they’re still in their own time, which makes this character a new experience for me – Sir William is the first who can notice and directly address the present day rather than talking solely about his own world. It is a delight to see the children first realising how much I don’t know about their world despite the fact I seem very well informed about all sorts of matters, then struggling to work out how exactly they can satisfactorily explain their own world to me.

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If you want to know more about Sir William the Time Traveller, please click here. And if you want him to visit your school, do please get in touch.

In the Middle of Guy Fawkes!

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Just now I am right in the middle of my annual two week run as Guy Fawkes, and having a great time being him. Last week I met 12 (mostly) Key Stage 1 classes (4 then 1 then 2 then 1 then 4) plus a bunch of other classes who came to see the assembly introduction to the day.

Next week, more of the same, and then I am back to my more usual characters for three more fully booked weeks, with just one last day as Fawkes in late November and then the beard retires until next summer.

These pictures are from a day with one class in a local school (thanks Mistress ‘B’ for taking them!) when Master Guido worked with a year one class all day. Below you’ll see someone (aged 6) has made a very pertinent point which Guy Fawkes thinks is worthy of notice.

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The children learned how to write in a secret cipher, being the one used by the catholics Anthony Babington and Father John Ballard in their communications with Mary Queen of Scots. If only Walsingham’s spies had not know the cipher as well as how to intercept the letters things might have been different. Guy Fawkes has high hopes that this time they will not fail. He’s so confident, in fact, that he can even laugh about it all!

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I am surprised he feels so happy this close to the fateful 5th November!

I know it’ll be a while (about 11.5 months I reckon) before I am Fawkes again, but to see which of my various characters you might like to visit your school, please take a look at my page of Characters. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

No Prey, No Pay (on a Friday Night)!

It’s not only children that Captain Burwash regales with his tales of privateers and plain old pirates. Yesterday evening, after the Calder Probus Club members had finished their hearty repast, he spoke to them of how chasers chased the chase, and told of the deeds of Blackbeard, Morgan, Calico Jack, Anne Bonny and Mary Read (amongst others). As his audience were a tad older than his regular listeners, he added in some of the more unsavoury parts of the stories – let’s just say that pirates can be even ‘naughtier’ than he tells children!

The listeners asked him about pieces of eight, jolly rogers and muskets, and all sorts of other things, which luckily he just so happened to have with him. After his talk, he took the opportunity to chat to some of the individuals there.

Here he is explaining how the lock of his stolen French Fusil works.

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And here he is wondering whether he should have so readily disarmed himself!

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The evening was a success, although the captain was worried that the ladies amongst the audience might suffer from nightmares that night as a consequence of his plainspoken account of his fellow sea rovers!

If you want to know more about Captain Burwash, please click here. And if you want him to visit your school, do please get in touch.

A War Without Enemies!

Last weekend (being August 1645) Colonel Sir John Mallory, the governor of Skipton Castle, attempted to reassure the many good folk who had sought refuge in the castle that all would be well. Although Commissary General Sydenham Poyntz and several thousand Northern Association soldiers had taken the town and come within pistol shot of the castle walls, they were so busy arguing amongst themselves (‘playing a german game’ as some of Mallory’s officers had put it) over their lack of pay that they had yet to put the garrison to any particular trouble. Understandably, people were still worried, what with the batteries being built on Park Hill and Sod Hill. If artillery pieces of sufficient size were brought and sited there then all within would be in danger.

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As he spoke he put on a brave face, even making light of their situation, and explained that he would negotiate a surrender under honourable terms long before the garrison was made to suffer over much. Wish so many in the castle he was able to discover much intelligence concerning the king’s deteriorating cause in the rest of Yorkshire and beyond, scouring his maps to place their reports …

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Of course there were some who found it all bewildering and worrisome, including one little mannikin who simply scratched his head in confusion and concern.

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(Thank you Thomas, my youngest boy, for your very fine, if accidental, acting.)

I have to admit I don’t do too many English Civil war days in schools as not too many schools study said topic. But if you do and you are interested in a visit then click on a Civil War Castle Governor to find out more. To see which of my other characters you might like to visit your school, please take a look at my page of Characters. I hope to hear from you.