What a Year! (In fact, two years – 1605 and 2020.)

I suppose 1605 was a tense year for Guy Fawkes, but perhaps all our experiences of 2020 have rivaled his nervousness and unease?

Yet, after a long period of school closures I am, at last, busy, busy, busy again. I have even begun taking bookings for next November. Hurray!

Having had the dreaded pestilence myself I am most likely, as some headteachers have put it, a ‘low risk’! Mind you, I am following all the Covid protocols, in every school, and changing just about everything I do on all my character days to reduce any possibility of transmission from anyone to anyone. I do get through a lot of soap, hand sanitiser gel and anti-bacterial wipes, but everyone working in schools is in the same situation!

Having seen how discombobulated many children have become as a consequence of the long lock-down, and the worry they have had concerning the news and the rules, I am so glad that schools have opened to give some normality to them, so they can learn again in so many ways. I am proud of all the staff I have worked with too – so brave and committed to the children.

The picture is of my last day as ‘Guido’ Fawkes this year, before I began a run of Great Fire of London and Highwayman days. It was also, like every year, the last day of my beard and ‘tache! I do grow attached to them (as they do to me) every year!

To see which of my historical characters you might want to visit, please take a look at my page of Characters. I look forward to hearing from you.

A Long Way From the Sea …

… and yet plenty of pirates to talk to!

Here are some images from last week when Captain Burwash visited a school near Wakefield. He expected landlubbers, but found a company of scallywags awaiting him!

They were a helpful bunch, who agreed with him that his jolly roger was not scary enough and immediately set about designing some much more terrifying ones for him.

They were curious too, and soon had Burwash waxing lyrical about pirates and piracy …

They even drew a portrait of him as part of an advertisement for a crew, being careful to list exactly what kind of sailors the captain required. Here you can see the captain posing!

One lad obviously wanted to get every detail right!

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.

Bidding the Beard a Fond Farewell

Once again I have come to the end of my annual November run of Guy Fawkes’ school bookings. This time I went as far south as Coventry and as far north as County Durham (twice!), and all sorts of places in between.

Reluctant to part with another beard without some sort of memento, at the end of my last day (yesterday) I asked a teacher in the staff room to take a photo of me using my phone …


Next year I will have to do two things. (a) lose a bit of weight and (b) get some beard dye. Fawkes was 35 years old in 1605, and had been a soldier for more than 10 years. I doubt very much he was as tubby as me, or that he had so many grey hairs in his beard!

I am now back to my regular characters, and after Fawkes yesterday the rest of my week is filled with Sir William ‘beardless’ Petty and the Great Fire of London. (I may have made up a nickname for him there!)

PS: Ruth is talking to me again. She bought me some fancy aftershave as an encouragement to remove the beard as soon as possible!

To see which of my historical characters you might want to visit, please take a look at my page of Characters. I look forward to hearing from you.

A Complete Cavalier is a Child of Honour …

“… A gentleman well born and bred: that loves his king for conscience sake. Of a clearer countenance and a bolder look than other men, because of a more loyal heart.

(Hopefully, you are more convinced now you have seen the picture!)

Last weekend my August events at Skipton came to a close when once again Colonel Sir John Mallory was busy commanding the (unseen) garrison during the time of the castle’s close siege in August 1645. He had a great time, talking to grown ups and children, sometimes families, sometimes a gathered crowd filling every bench in the room and others standing beside! Let’s face it, despite all the concerns of the war weighing heavy upon him, he looks happy here …

He told some children all about the weapons he and his men use to fight the Roundheads …

… and showed other children which other castles in the great country of Yorkshire were still holding out for the king.

When he asked one group of grown ups where they came from so that he could tell them what he had heard about the war there, they said they were from Greece! After talking about a few foreign mercenaries serving in the war, including the infamous Croatian ‘turncoat’ Carlo Fantom, he discovered the four of them now lived in Leeds, about which the governor had a veritable cornucopia of war stories!

Afterwards, they said Leeds can indeed get a bit rough on a Saturday night!

With most folk, and despite the sad condition of the king’s affairs in England, he still found something to laugh about.

As of next week I am back to visiting schools. The beard will go, to be replaced with another by the time of my Guy Fawkes’ visits, and I will also begin flipping between characters once again. I can’t wait!

If you are considering a visit from one of my historical characters to your school, then please take a look at my page of Characters.


Being the Constable of Bolsover

I had a great time at Bolsover castle in the 1670s (!) this weekend being Benjamin Grainger, the parish constable. I attempted to convince the crowds not to be afeared of the soldiers, for I had lodged them according to the law and was keeping an eye on them, whilst simultaneously encouraging the townsfolk to fear the consequences of the law in regards to their own behaviour. Hopefully the illegal taking of clay from Shuttlewood Common by the town’s pipe-makers will now cease!

The constable spoke a lot about highwaymen, especially the notorious local robber Edmund Bracy and his gang, telling stories I ‘borrowed‘ from my highwayman character John Nevison; whilst being dressed in clothes I borrowed from my Great Fire of London and Great Plague character, Sir William Petty.

Now I have seen the picture, I have decided all my characters are going to stop eating puddings!

To see which of my historical characters you might want to visit, please take a look at my page of Characters. I look forward to hearing from you.