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The Crabchurch Conspiracy
The English Civil War was a time of divided loyalties, hardship and blood-letting, and one of the places where a particularly hard-fought battle raged was the twin ports of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis. The two towns, straddling the harbour of the River Wey, were the scene of an amazing event in 1645, when the Royalists and the Parliamentarians fought hand to hand through the streets. You are invited to join me in a very special event to commemorate this! Please read on ...
Mark Vine, local historian and author of the wonderful book "The Crabchurch Conspiracy" (currently out of print but being rewritten to include new information recently come to light), has done much research into the Civil War in Weymouth, and is heavily involved in a project to restore the Old Town Hall for community use. He's arranged a very special fund-raising event to coincide with the exciting weekend in February when Civil War re-enactors gather in Weymouth to stage battles and displays out of doors in full, glorious costume.
Professor Ronald Hutton, the world-renowned historian and professor of History at Bristol University, is coming to give a talk all about the incredible events that happened in Weymouth during the Civil War. He will tell of the glory of the brave Sydenham brothers who led their men so honorably, and avenged their mother's death, the secret message smuggled by a woman over to Portland to alert the conspirators (involving a token kept hidden under the tongue), the local men from the outlying villages who spent a freezing night in the marshes at Radipole waiting for the sound of hoofbeats from Dorchester, the grisly end to the Irish soldiers who drowned in a spot where today, you may tread unwittingly on the site of their watery grave. Prof Hutton is a very entertaining speaker and an expert in this period, and his talk will be fascinating to anyone who lives around Weymouth and Portland, and anyone else with an interest in local history and especially the English Civil War.
After this talk, The Dolmen will be performing their brilliant album from 2009, The Crabchurch Conspiracy. Mark Vine works with The Dolmen, and he wrote most of the lyrics to this album, based on his book, which The Dolmen then set to music. It's a fabulous album, telling the story of the terrible events of the Civil War in Weymouth and Melcombe from both sides. The melodies and rhythms of the songs are haunting, the words a wonderful tribute to the men and women who died in the Great Rebellion. The story will be narrated around the songs by Prof Ronald Hutton and me. I am very honoured to be taking part in this and incredibly excited too.
Tickets for this evening event, which is taking place in The Bay Theatre at Weymouth College, Cranford Avenue in Weymouth, are on sale now and going very fast. The event is being extensively advertised and it's expected that it will be a sell-out, with no tickets left on the door. They cost £12.50 and are available in advance from three places. The link to the event page on Facebook is here.
1) Via Paypal from Steve Booth, one of the organisers. Click here to purchase.
2) Via Imagine Books, in St Albans Street, Weymouth. These can be bought in person or over the phone with a debit card. Click here to visit the website.
3) In person from Dorchester Cycles in Dorchester.
All profits from the event will be given to the Old Town Hall Restoration Fund, and these should be substantial as the performers are giving their time for free, and Weymouth College has very kindly given the venue for free too. There's a licensed bar available and also parking. The event begins at 7pm and is on Saturday February 16th.
The entire weekend is given to the re-enactment of the battles. Do come along around lunchtime on the Saturday to see the re-enactments taking place during the afternoon. At the time of writing I'm not sure of times and places exactly, though the Old Town Hall in Weymouth will be a focal meeting place and will have full details. There's also an event page on Facebook, so you could check here for the latest information. Folk come from far and wide in costume, with weapons, to take part, and it should be spectacular. All this is free so do come along and make a day of it, and bring your children too to give them a taste of their history! There is also a parade on the Sunday morning too, in costume.
I really hope that many of my Stonewylde readers will be able to come along and support this very exciting event. I've become involved myself for several reasons, being a fan of Prof Ronald Hutton, The Dolmen and Mark Vine's book, but also because Weymouth is my hometown and I've always been fascinated by the Civil War, and in particular how it impacted locally.
What you may not yet know is that I'm currently engaged in research for my next adult novel which will be set on Portland during the Civil War!