In the years after 1600 Taunton was marked by a heady mixture of radical Puritanism and the volatile wool trade. Together these pitched Taunton into the centre of the Civil War in the area and, on two occasions in the second half of the seventeenth century, into open rebellion against the government. William Gibson follows Taunton’s transition from a centre of rebellion to peaceable borough in the eighteenth century.
This article tells the extraordinary story of Robert Cadman and his renowned steeple-flying performances throughout the South-West of England. Remarkably, Cadman hadn’t been the only one. John Penny follows the stories of the original ‘daredevils’ who gathered huge crowds at their dangerous performances and even appeared in the work of William Hogarth. These shocking spectacles were studded with moments of both calamity and ingenious choreography.