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A Pirate in a Castle!

Last weekend Captain Burwash visited Skipton Castle, and discovered his ugly mug was painted large upon a sign outside the castle.

Burwash Poster 2017


As a consequence, lots of people came to meet with him and he spent the whole weekend telling tales of famous pirates and their piratical deeds, as well as waxing lyrical about his possessions and piracy in general.

Here you can see some children gathered at the front to take part in one of the stories, doing all the actions needed to help their watching family members enjoy the tale.


At one point a scurvy little scallywag called Tom (known well to the captain) thought he might reach out for a bottle of rum while the captain was distracted in conversation. Sensibly, considering how heavily armed the captain was, the boy slid along the bench away from temptation!


You may notice the captain was wearing his rather lovely new coat, stitched with his own two hands, as shown in the previous news post.

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

Will the sewing ever end?

Oh … it has!

I have, after three weeks of toil (admittedly whilst also going on holiday ‘adventure-days’ with the kids, a working weekend, a reenactment weekend and even a mid-week summer school day in Staffordshire) finally completed Captain Burwash’s new coat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe buttons were on by 9 am this morning. It is linen-lined wool, with linen and silk thread (the latter for the button holes) and pewter buttons. I am proud of the button holes …


And my functioning pockets …



It was inspired by a collection of pictures …

1710 coats

1710 coat pic


And it seems to fit me well …


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.


Hiding the Highwayman

This August John Nevison had to find somewhere to hide himself away. Will the hue and cry never leave him in peace? Skipton Castle once again provided safe concealment, as well as plenty of company. (Luckily, the castle warden, a typpling house friend of the highwayman, was willing to risk hiding Nevison in return for remission of all his card-game debts.)

The day began with Nevison lurking in shadowy doorways …


Before long people began arriving and he found himself in good company. The weekend passed by quickly as he explained his predicament, told umpteen stories, boasted of his cunning tricks, and answered a plethora of questions asked by everyone from little manikins and maids to the somewhat more venerable visitors.


He spent a good amount of time trying to convince people that he was just like Robin Hood: a right good fellow, who only ever robbed from ‘them who could afford it’. As he waxed lyrical to whole crowds of gathered folk, dismissing the lies printed about him and telling them of his many good deeds, some amongst the audience began to wonder if he was telling the truth. Or was he really a devil in disguise?


If you want to know more about Nevison the highwayman, perhaps being interested in him visiting your school, then please click on – Swift Nicks Nevison. To see which of my other characters you might want to visit, please take a look at my page of Characters. I look forward to hearing from you.

Getting the Fiddly Details Right!

Year 2 SATs week is always a chance for me to catch up on projects. For some reason not that many schools want a pirate, highwayman or London bigwig visiting when the children have tests to concentrate on!

It means I have had a chance to cross a few things off my to do list. First there was my 18th century sailor’s knife. I had learned that ship captains, as well as keeping the ship’s weapons locked away, sometimes also insisted that their sailors’ trade knives (aka ‘gully knives’) had blunted tips. This meant that although the blades were still useful for working the ship, if the lads were tempted to mutiny, perhaps to turn pirate, then they would find it a little less easy to do so with such knives. So, while my friend Trevor serviced my car I got him to lop off the end of my recently acquired trade knife so that it would look ‘like the one in the picture’.


Having the right tools, I think he’s done a great job.

Meanwhile there were other things I could do myself, such as replacing the arrowheads I use for my Elizabethan sea farer and my Civil War Castle Governor characters with hand-made authentic ones I recently had delivered. Luckily a brulee torch flame was all that was needed to melt the epoxy glue inside the modern tips, allowing me to remove them with ease. After fixing the authentic ones on instead I am very pleased with the result.


You have to get the fiddly details right, see?

As always, reading obscure books is also something I do whenever I have the chance. This week it has been the marvellous tome penned by Sir William’s good friend Bishop John Wilkins, a treatise entitled, ‘Mathematical Magick, or, the WONDERS That may be Performed by Mechanical Geometry in two Books: Concerning Mechanical  Powers, Motions. Being one of the most Easie, Pleasant, Useful (and yet most neglected) part of MATHEMATICS Not before treated of in this Language.’

I am studying this for my time traveller character, Sir William Petty. Being a founder member of the Royal Society, and a natural philosopher of considerable repute, he has always had an interest in the latest inventions and ingenious ideas (which is of course why he is attempting to travel forwards in time). Bishop Wilkins considers all sorts of wonders in his book, some more fantastical than others.

For example, he describes an improvement on the usual methods of turning a spit. Why have a child or a dog that need encouraging, or a weight that needs winding, when you can utilise the very motion of the air as it ascends the chimney to turn the spit?


Exploring this concept further, the bishop discusses the ‘sailing chariots’ of China and Holland. After describing and illustrating a carriage with ship-like sails rigged above it, he then describes the following, explaining that due to its design it should be able to move with ease even directly into the wind.


Although the bishop does express doubts concerning whether such a chariot would shake itself to pieces on rough ground.

Another engine he describes, this time a war engine, is one which I myself think would quite literally tear itself to pieces!


That one goes beyond fiddly and into the realm of very dangerous, and not necessarily for the enemy!

If you want to know more about Sir William the Time Traveller, please click here. If it’s the naughty pirate Captain Burwash you might like to visit your school, please click here. And if you’re learning about Civil War Castles then please 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 look forward to hearing from you.

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.


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!


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.