The coronavirus pandemic exposed many underlying fault-lines in society. One was that between different generations, surfacing most prominently in disputes about mass gatherings and the right to use public spaces. But what happened at Abbots Pool in rural North Somerset was part of a deeper history of contested access.
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.
The right to trial by jury has been traditionally acknowledged as a pillar of the English legal system. Under the principle of ‘twelve good men and true’, juries had been trusted for centuries with the responsibility of dispensing justice impartially and according to evidence. Defendants had the right to be tried ‘by their peers’, but juries had always been composed entirely of men. In 1919, reforms in the law allowed women to take their seats as jurors in a criminal trial for the first time. The trial took place here in Bristol in 1920, and not everyone was entirely happy about it.
"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".
'In this paper Weller demonstrates that, chiefly with "examples from the parishes in and around Bristol and Somerset, that the older church buildings we see today, whilst for the most part still possessing a Medieval structural core, have undergone varying degrees of transformation, sometimes including partial or occasionally total demolition, during the Victorian Age"'.
"Two common observations about the development of Bristol in the 19th Century are that its economy was notably diverse but that it grew rather more slowly than some of the more vibrant northern industrial towns. In this article, Peter Malpass considers the ways in which these traits were reflected in the development of the city’s built environment".
"Nineteenth century commentators on mental illness were often fascinated by the outward signs of difference between sane and insane behaviour, and the relative changes brought about in each patient’s demeanour and expression by treatment in the asylum. As Michael Whitfield finds here, these interests could be as common in the newspaper press as they were amongst surgeons".
"John Lyes considers the career of an overlooked Bristol lawyer and finds him to have been a feisty and prolific criminal justice campaigner... Walker was also a regular writer of letters to the local press". Walker protested injustices wherever he could, whether they happened to him or others he saw it as his duty to try and make changes to the system.