At Stroud in 1897, protesting crowds congregated outside the market hall for three days in an attempt to prevent a public auction of household effects, seized by the authorities in a ‘distraint sale’. These were the belongings of a local family who had refused to let their children be vaccinated against Smallpox as the law required. Distraint sales like this had increasingly become an arena for protest and carnivalesque displays of public outrage and the Stroud riot was no exception. The crowd set fire to heather bushes, acted out pantomimic scenes in fancy dress, and pelted eggs at police constables and auctioneers. They overwhelmed the local police force, as well as the police who had been sent in from neighbouring towns and cities. But why would anybody riot against a vaccination programme set up to combat Smallpox? In this article, Holly John investigates a nineteenth century medical controversy and discovers that despite being the home of Dr Edward Jenner, the ‘Father of immunisation’, the south-west of England was also once home to a fervent anti-vaccination movement.
"Bristol, the Lower Severn Vale, the Severn Estuary and the Atlantic Ocean are all closely connected by trade. Liz Napier paints a vivid picture of port life in Tudor Bristol and the beginnings of international trade from original records".
"Wealthy Bristolians have always escaped the pressures of city life for the peace of rural South Gloucestershire. Country estates frequently changed hands as fortunes were made and lost and fashionable mansions were built with the profits of trade, including the Slave Trade. Sarah Hands has traced the story of Over Court from its medieval origins".
"Mary Jane Steer concentrates on farming life where Bristol expanded into the Severn Vale in the later 19th and 20th centuries. George Watkins and his family are the focus of her research. Like most of the rural population before 1900 they worked mainly as agricultural labourers, although George came to the area as a labourer on the Severn Tunnel in the early 1880s".
"Elmington Manor Farm is the best-documented farm in the Lower Severn Vale Levels, which is why James Powell chose as his topic 'The Estate Management of Elmington Manor Farm and environs 1066-1950'". From sources in "public archives, planning departments, libraries and museums" Powell looks at the earliest records of the farm, and how it survived to be surveyed by the "Second World War Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries".
"The Severn Vale salt marshes attracted our Prehistoric ancestors because of the wealth of food - especially fish and wildfowl. Regular flooding prevented permanent settlement but left silt behind which enriched the soil... Sue explores a wide range of records kept by church and state to piece together the lives of Redwick's medieval inhabitants".
"A Forgotten Landscape is an exciting project designed to reconnect local people with their heritage in the Lower Severn Vale Levels. One strand of this Heritage Lottery Fund Landscape Partnership Project is a community history project called Tales of the Vale". Bainbridge introduces the project, and how it interprets the landscape of the South West.
"The South West of England was prominent in the campaign to ban blood sports in the second half of the twentieth century. Both the Hunt Saboteurs Association and Save Our Stags, an organisation established to oppose deer hunting in Devon and Somerset, were both born in the region". Tichelar looks at the people behind the movement, and how it has shaped the areas approaches to wildlife and conservation.