EH Whydale and Royston’s lost paintings

Picture this…. It’s 1937. The far-right is on the rise throughout Europe. In Paris, Picasso is painting a dying horse in his anti-war masterpiece Guernica, while Orwell is visiting the front-line of the Spanish Civil War taking notes. When he returns to his cottage (in the tiny Hertfordshire village of Wallington), Orwell will work these notes up… Continue reading EH Whydale and Royston’s lost paintings

William Blake’s Universe

William Blake’s artwork never makes it onto shortbread tins. It is far too disturbing for that. His colours are a psychedelic nightmare. The Fitzwilliam Museum’s exhibition tries to ask, ‘Why?’ Who was this man who challenged artistic orthodoxy and why did he frame himself as Joseph of Arimathea at a time when the whole world… Continue reading William Blake’s Universe

Two new projects

On the heath and On the edge aren’t writing projects, so strictly speaking I shouldn’t be flagging them here, but I am proud to have collaborated on them with James Palmer and Louis Holder for p|arts. These two news films are rooted in Therfield Heath (Hertfordshire) and are very different to each other. The first… Continue reading Two new projects

The Black Watch Mutiny

Since the unsettling events in London of the previous week, Royston’s ever-alert exciseman, Jeremiah Berry, had been on the look out for strangers. Had it not been for his Scotish burr, Patrick MacGregor (alias Campbell/McAlpine) might well have slipped past Berry undetected. It was not to be. On 22 May 1743 the exciseman bundled his… Continue reading The Black Watch Mutiny


I am delighted to be giving this talk at Royston Museum to raise funds for the hard-working Friends of the Museum. On 17 May 1743, 100 soldiers of the Black Watch Regiment turned on their commanders. 280 years on, discover how one man was hunted down in Royston and what happened next. Mutiny!: The Black… Continue reading Mutiny!


I am delighted that Donna Lennard has recorded a haunting version of ‘The Blessing of the Roadborn Child’ (one of the Cracked Voices songs written by Jenni Pinnock and myself) as part of her contribution to Chelmsford City Museum’s online exhibition celebrating 100 years of public radio broadcasting. To find out more visit: Forecast22 at… Continue reading Forecast22

Revolting Royston (1): The Swing Riots

Revolution… On 28 August 1830 angry men smashed up a threshing machine in East Kent. It was not unknown for a disgruntled farm worker – worse for drink and in the gloom of night – to set fire to a farmer’s stacks of hay or straw to get his own back for some slight, but… Continue reading Revolting Royston (1): The Swing Riots