Folklore of Northamptonshire

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Redman and Redcap in Northamptonshire.


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Soccer with the Fairies in Northamptonshire. The House Bogie in Northamptonshire. Bogie and Stowe Church. Bogie and the Farmer: A Northamptonshire Story. Bogie and the Red Sea in Northamptonshire. Fairy Gifts in Northamptonshire. Its horse fairs are frequented by dealers from all parts of the kingdom.

Near the town is Borough-hill , a remain of antiquity of great note, being probably the largest encampment in the island. It is commonly called Dane's Hill, but the real authors of it are uncertain. Posted by Rhiannon 26th June ce. Online at Google Books. Rainsborough Camp Hillfort. In this parish, to the south of the village, is a spacious valley called Danes-moor , or Duns-more, where, it is said that a sanguinary conflict took place between the Danes, who had in great force encamped on the heights of Rainsborough, and an army of Saxons collected to oppose their depradations.

But as this is not mentioned in the Saxon Chronicle, it merely rests upon tradition. Notes: with thanks to my fellow Northamptonian, the now London-based actor Robert Goodman — who first told me about this over a cup of tea in London. I began performing at the same time I began writing in earnest — back in — and so it is second nature to me to create a spoken word show based upon my latest publication, Northamptonshire Folk Tales The History Press, Instant feedback is visceral clapping, tears, laughter , useful, but nerve-wracking.

Take the effort to learn it by heart, and the audience will generally give you the time of day. Fast forward several years — I became Bard of Bath after winning the local eisteddfod in that city back in The storyteller performers extempoire, or completely improvises. I became a professional storyteller in when I went freelance, getting bookings in schools, libraries, art centres, museums, and so on. After moving to Stroud in late I worked on a commission for The History Press — a collection of folk tales, as part of their county-by-county series.

This is where my experience as a spoken word performer cross-fertilised with that of my writing practice. Encouraged by the success of Oxfordshire Folk Tales, I wrote a second collection, drawing upon tales from my old home county of Northamptonshire. This was published in October I am now gearing up for performances based upon this latest book, but I also wanted to offer something different. Looking at my two books I decided I wanted to create a show based upon both.

What could link them, beyond the folk tale genre? Some stories are based on what are called Murder Ballads — and so love, death, revenge, and bizarre magical shenanigans are common tropes. This new show would be a collaboration with folksinger Chantelle Smith, who would complement my stories with ballads, thereby providing sonic texture, i.

Previously, when performing solo, I have achieved this by switching from story to poetry I am no singer, but I am an experienced performance poet. Working with a musician widens out the appeal of the show tremendously. It is hard work, even for a word-junkie like me, to sit through a whole evening of poetry; or long stories, without variation. At sixty minutes, our show is intentionally lean and mean.

Available from The History Press. The Automobile Murder, illustration by Kevan Manwaring. Alfred Rouse was a respectable looking chap, with his smart suit and tie, neat, brilliantined hair and short moustache, and that Irish gleam in his eye that the women found strangely alluring. The circumstances which led to his conviction of the murder of an unknown man are curious, and chilling.

In the early hours of November 6 th , two young men returning from Northampton town to their home in the nearby village of Hardingstone saw a fire in the distance. As it had just been Bonfire Night this was not unusual in itself, but the hour was. Curious, the two men went to investigate and discovered the fire was coming from a motor vehicle that was ablaze — and it looked like there was somebody inside.

In the morning, when the fire had burnt itself out, they returned to discover, amid the blackened shell of the automobile, a body charred beyond recognition. The authorities were notified, and soon Police Constables were on the scene, taking statements from the witnesses, and holding back the gathering crowd of onlookers. In the days that followed there was endless local speculation about what the disturbing incident had involved. The local newspaper reported on the event, stating that the licence plate identified the car as belonging to an Alfred Arthur Rouse, a travelling salesman from North London.

Rouse had appeared in London a day later, a slight limp in his left knee. He had not come back from the grave, but from Wales, where he had fled the scene of the crime to one of his girlfriends more details of which were to be revealed. He handed himself in. Sitting on a hard chair in a cold room, looking unshaven and dishevelled in a crumpled suit, Rouse made his statement. A First World War veteran, convalescing from serious injuries to his head and leg, Rouse received a war pension, until an examiner cut his hard-won entitlement significantly. By this time, in the early Twenties, he had already found work.

He became a salesman, and would prove to be an amazingly good one up until the last few months before his crime. At a time when the jobless queued for soup and went on hunger marches, Rouse managed to make enough money for a house with his legal wife, whom he had married just before going off to training, in , as well as owning a car — his pride and joy it was: a Morris Minor.

He had done exceptionally well for himself — tootling along the lanes of England, singing in his baritone voice, checking his hair and tie in the rear-view mirror, practising his winning smile. An observant person might notice a tell-tale scar on his left temple. He never could wear a hat — it irritated him, and, when annoyed, his hand reached up involuntarily to the old war wound, which sometimes gave him headaches, sometimes even bad dreams.

Calmly, Rouse explained that the man in the car was responsible for the explosion that killed him. While look at me, a successful salesman with my harem.

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The person writing the statement, raised an eyebrow at this, briefly pausing. The investigators cast each other a wry smile, and encouraged him to explain. At least two would get pregnant from the experience of knowing him. He also knew of a second coming up. Harridans baying for my blood. Things were getting a bit too hot for my liking.

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I had to disappear. Bloody mastermind, me.


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Rouse had picked up the victim during a ride to Leicester. A scrounger, expecting handouts from life. Look at me, I said to him. This car. This suit. A man women like to know.

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A self-made man, I am. While, you — I thought to myself — you are just somebody who nobody would miss. The journey passed amicably enough, Rouse explained. The man was absurdly grateful for a lift. A cousin or some such. Checked the oil. The cheeky git asked for a ciggie. Sure, I said.

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Help yourself. I tossed him the packet. And off I went. I walked away from the car. Suddenly, there was a flash of light — lit the whole bloody sky up like a night-flare. I turned to see my beloved Morris Minor burst into flame. Rouse stood trial in Northampton in January , and was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. An expert on automobiles who studied the remains of the Morris Minor, and found somebody had forcefully turned a nut and screw to allow petrol to flow into the motor.

He confessed to the crime shortly before the execution, the first automobile murder in Great Britain. Notes: Hardingstone was the village at the edge of my world, when growing up in Far Cotton. Hardingstone itself is charming, picturesque village — set back from the noisy traffic which streams by it, night and day.

Take a walk through this county in the heart of England in the entertaining company of a local storyteller. Kevan Manwaring, born and raised in Northampton, regales you with tales ancient and modern.

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Learn how the farmer outwitted the bogle; how a Queen who lost her head; the Great Fire of Northampton; and the last execution of witches in England. Along the way you will meet incredible characters from history and myth: Boudicca, St Patrick, Robin Hood and Hereward the Wake, Captain Slash, Dionysia the female knight, beasts and angels, cobblers and kings. From fairies to wolves, these illustrated tales are ideal to be read out loud or used as a source book for your own performances.

Northamptonshire Folk Tales is a great companion for any visit to the area, for fascinating days out and for discovering exciting treasures on your doorstep. Earlier this year I completed Northamptonshire Folk Tales — originally it had 40 stories in it, folk tales which I had researched and retold in my own words. I have included them here one below and one in next posting to let you decide.

What do you think? The truth is out there, in the skies above Northamptonshire!

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