English Civil War Weekend to revive past glories

The English Civil War Society is holding a whole weekend’s worth of activities to commemorate the city of Gloucester’s involvement in the war on Saturday 23 and 24 March. There will be parades with Cavaliers and Roundheads in full costume, fun and interesting talks at Gloucester City Museum, demonstrations at Gloucester Folk Museum and cannon firing at the Historic Docks.

English Civil War Weekend – full schedule of parades and events

What is the origin of Gloucester‘s strong ties with the English Civil War? The city was besieged by Charles I’s Royalist forces from 3 August until the arrival of the Earl of Essex’s Parliamentarian army on 5 September 1643. After a summer of Royalist victories, Gloucester was one of the few remaining Parliamentarian strongholds left in the West. Charles wished to consolidate his power in the South West and felt that Gloucester’s small garrison would provide little resistance. Colonel Edward Massey led the defence of the city, withstanding cannon attacks and surviving an attempt to undermine the walls at the East Gate (thanks to a spell of bad weather). By the time the Earl of Essex relieved the city, Massey only had three barrels of gunpowder remaining.

Several legends came out of the Siege of Gloucester, one of which was the pig that saved the city. It is said that a pig was carried around inside the city walls during the siege. The poor little pig was tormented into making an almighty racket, hopefully giving off the impression to the Royalists that there were plenty of pigs and that there was no chance of a food running out in Gloucester. For more about Gloucester’s affinity with our porcine friends visit the Centenary of the Gloucestershire Old Spot Exhibition at the Gloucester Folk Museum.

The Mystery of Humpty Dumpty
Humpty Dumpty was said to be the name of an unprecedentedly large mortar imported from Holland. It was mounted on the walls of Llanthony Secunda Priory where the Royalist forces were encamped during the Siege of Gloucester. It was apparently named (disparagingly) after a famously rotund MP of the day. As the artillerymen trained their sights on Gloucester’s cathedral, the cannon misfired. Another assertion was that Humpty Dumpty was a ‘tortoise’ siege engine that featured a series of covered bridges to enable King Charles I’s men to cross the defensive ditch and scale the city walls. This second theory was put forward by Professor David Daube in The Oxford Magazine in 1956, but like many other origin theories of the nursery rhyme, it was a case of fitting square pegs into round holes.

Gloucester Day
Celebrated annually for hundreds of years following the lifting of the Siege of Gloucester on 5 September 1643, the event died out in the nineteenth century. However the celebration was revitalised by town crier Alan Myatt and the Gloucester Civic Trust in 2009 and forms an integral part of the Gloucester History Festival.

Mock Mayor of Barton
During the Restoration of Charles II, the king settled scores and penalised Gloucester’s impertinence during the Civil War by knocking down the once unbreachable walls and reducing the city boundaries. This left Barton outside the city limits and without a mayor to defer to. The residents of Barton ‘elected’ a mock mayor (usually a man who had made the biggest fool of themselves in the previous year) to thumb their noses in defiance at the city of Gloucester’s authority.

The Spirit of Gloucester
Perhaps the Siege of Gloucester is seen as a prime example of the defiance of the fiercely proud inhabitants of this small city. This spirit has been documented since the days when Gloucester (or Glevum) was a Roman colonia – the highest status afforded to a provincial town in the Roman Empire. It was a small colonia, but it had colonia status nonetheless. Today, Gloucester revels in its reputation of passion and pride – just ask the fans at Kingsholm (officially the most passionate fans in the Aviva Premiership). If Gloucester is succesful in being named as one of the venues for the Rugby World Cup in 2015 despite it being the smallest (and only club) ground on the shortlist, it will be down to indomitable spirit of its people.

Worldwide event hopes to illuminate issue of dwindling lighthouses and lightships

The International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW) is an annual event and the SULA Lightship in Gloucester is participating for the second successive year. The event was started in 1998 by a Scottish HAM Radio Amateur and has grown into a massive global event with almost 400 participating lighthouses and lightships.

The basic objective of the event is to promote public awareness of lighthouses and lightships and their need for preservation and restoration, and at the same time to promote amateur radio and to foster International goodwill.

Lighthouses are fast becoming an endangered species with the introduction of Global Positioning Systems and Satellite Navigation and the automation of the light source to solar power which has resulted in the withdrawal of management personnel (Keepers). In the UK, Trinity House, who manages the lighthouses, have started a program to extinguish lighthouses and sell them. It is hoped that this ILLW weekend event will highlight this situation and help prevent further desecration of these magnificent structures all around the world.

This year the event takes place on 18-19 August.

The Sula Lightship will be open to the public on both days from 10am till 5pm. There will be an opportunity to learn about lightships and small groups can climb up into the light-tower. Presentations will be held during both days.

Members from the Cheltenham Amateur Radio Association and the Gloucester Amateur Radio and Electronics Society will be manning the Radio room on board and will talking to other stations around the world. The general public will be able to see them in action and listen-in to those signals and conversation from exotic and remote locations. The station will operate HF radios for long-distance calls and VHF/UHF radios for more local contacts.

Weather permitting, people can enjoy coffee and teas on deck of the historic lightship, enjoying a perfect view of the Gloucester-Sharpness canal.

The SULA Lightship is the home of Lightship Therapies, Gloucester’s Holistic Centre. During the weekend, various taster treatments and demonstrations will be available. For those who are not too interested in ships and radios, a pampering treatment is a relaxing alternative.

SULA also hosts the Gloucester Buddhist Centre and information about Buddhism is available. Why not have a look at the only Shinghon Buddhist temple in the UK?

With lots of activities over the weekend, this is a perfect family day out with something for everybody!
Please call SULA on 01452-527566 for more details.

Group travel operators discover a taste for Gloucester

On Friday 20 April 2012, Marketing Gloucester and a group of businesses in the Docks hosted the Quays Hospitality Day. The group travel market has been identified as a growth area in tourism and this was an opportunity to showcase the range of attractions on offer for tourist groups in Gloucester Docks.

The 75 influential guests were welcomed by Richard Rawlings (Centre Manager at Gloucester Quays) and Paul James (Chairman of Marketing Gloucester) at a morning reception. Chris Oldershaw (Chief Executive of Marketing Gloucester and GHURC) gave a summary of the regeneration work carried out in the city over the last five years and outlined what future plans are in the pipeline. He also highlighted the importance of events, such as the Gloucester Quays Food Festival, Garden Party, the award-winning Tall Ships Festival, and explained how the Believe in Gloucester campaign is bringing the feel good factor back to the city.

Afterwards, Gloucester Civic Trust guides took the guests on a whistle-stop tour of the attractions in the Docks. Group travel organisers were able to sample a taster of what is on offer at the Gloucester Antiques Centre, Gloucester Waterways Museum, Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum and English Holiday Cruises before taking an entertaining if somewhat bracing, 45-minute cruise along the Gloucester Sharpness Canal on board the Queen Boadicea.

A lunch reception was held at The Blue Elephant Restaurant (above Fosters), where Dawn Melvin and her team outdid themselves and put on a truly impressive spread for the hungry visitors. A prize draw was made with English Holiday Cruises offering an all expenses weekend for two to the lucky winners. Guests were then offered the opportunity to visit Gloucester’s magnificent Cathedral or spend more time in the Docks, but not before letting us know what a great time they had. All group travel organisers who completed the questionnaire said that they would be bringing groups to the City.

The Quays Hospitality Day was the collaborative brainchild of the Quays Marketing Group (which includes Marketing Gloucester, Gloucester Quays, Gloucester Antiques Centre, Gloucester Civic Trust, English Holiday Cruises, The Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum, Gloucester Waterways Museum, SULA Lightship Therapies and Gloucester Docks Estates Company Limited). The success of the event just goes to show how organisations working in partnership can make a positive impact on tourism which benefits the local economy.