Above: Artistic reconstruction of Temple Fee, Bristol, ca 1150AD, based upon historical & archaeological research

-'Enjoyable History' - Talks.
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I have been actively researching technology and Bristol's history for more than thirty years and all of these prepared talks are based upon my own research, books or academic papers that I've had published. Amongst others topics include are those from 'Bristol Past Revisited', 'Beastly Bristol', 'De Re Metallica', (Medieval History), The Regional Historian, (University of the West of England) and 'Bristol Curiosities' (published Sept 2007). They are all enlivened with a combination anecdotes, photos, drawings, maps and plans. Duration by arrangement can be between 30 minutes to an hour, with a mid time break as convenient. .

Outline Summaries

1 Pirates, privateers and dastardly deeds, "They may be Pirates, but they're our Pirates" -
Some lesser known events from Bristol's history together with a selection of bloodthirsty anecdotes concerning Bristol more notorious 'entrepreneurs'. Hear about the terrible deeds that took place on the quay that resulted in a very well deserved hanging on St Michael's Hill, learn about the shoot out between the press gang and the sailors on the roof of a pub in Marsh Street. Duration, 1 Hour + further discussion as requested.
2 Bristol Cradle of America, stories behind more than twenty seven places or people connected with Bristol that also had special links with the USA. Although some names are well known, other names will be a surprise.
3 Our missing Angel,
the story behind the rise and fall of this famous city-centre landmark is a good example of how 'moral fervour' and 19c philanthropy created it and how it was subsequently lost to war-time damage and post war 'development fever'.
4 The Monastic Moles, tells about the ingenious Monks whose legacy is Bristol's half a dozen monastic water systems that snake beneath the city in a series of tunnels. Find out where they run, how they were made and learn about a local medieval incentive contract that had a punitive penalty clause.
5 The Loving Cup, people partaking of the 'Loving Cup' ceremony may not realise they are participating in a ritual that goes back to pagan times. Nowadays it refers to a cup of love, friendship or fraternity, but on at least one notable occasion it had lethal outcome which reflects on some modern ceremonies.
6 Beastly Bristol, this is based upon a search for all the sculptural depictions of animals - real and mythical - that can be seen in the streets and public spaces of Bristol - a veritable ark of stone, ceramic and metal beasties. This is the show of the book, (published by Redcliffe Press in 2006). For more details and a web photo gallery of the hundreds of creatures lurking around Bristol streets go to http://spaces.msn.com/members/beastlybristol This show is also a guide to summer strolls around the city:
7 The Jacob's Well, rediscovered and recorded by members of Temple Local History Group, (we kept a unique photo diary during the uncovering of this wo rld famous site). This talk will show the development and systems associated with this culturally important site, (now given English Heritage protected status).
8 Parish Marks, Bristol's medieval boundaries, their importance and how they affected daily life. Learn about the significance of the hundreds of carved, incised and cast hieroglyphs that dot the streets and buildings of Bristol, together with stories and some bizarre anecdotes.
9 When the Crusaders sailed from Bristol, learn about the Templars own port and ships that sailed from Bristol, and how the Temple district got its name and why it has a church within a church. Historic reports tell of them being continually at odds with the burgesses of Bristol, this talk tells why.
10 Unseen Bristol, all the sights of Bristol that we can't see for looking. Many surprises. Our ancient forbears beheaded their vanquished foes - what they did with the heads is still visible (representatively) on Bristol Streets.
11 Conundrums in Stone - puzzles and the mysterious 'Pavement Runes', Above ground, below ground, some we may trip over and some even sub aqua but however bizarre, they all have, (or had) a function. Finding out how to recognize some of them can be helpful even today. Others demonstrate our ancestors' sense of humour.
12 The fateful decision,learn how a Redcliffe boy, son of a Bristol Sugar Baker and friend of the Chattertons made good. However the result of one of his business decisions has tolled down the centuries and even has a modern link with Dorset swans.
13 The curious tale of the five Thomas', although in recent years much has been written about local involvement in the African slave trade, this talk concerns a most surprising discovery - some would even say fateful.
14 Bristol underpins New York, a road in New York built upon the remains of Bristol houses? Improbable as it may sound this talk tells a true story of maritime hero ism and civic ingenuity that was the outcome of a number of initiatives and unusual circumstances, and could probably only happen in wartime, but still has visible reminders in modern Bristol. Duration, ¾ Hour + further discussion as requested.
15 South America and the marvels of Andean Engineering, is the outcome of visits to many of the countries in South America. My first visit was in the 1960s when I was invited to tour South America to follow in the footsteps of Simon Bolivar who liberated the continent from the Spanish yoke. These visits resulted in a number of interesting encounters, not least with Fidel Castro in Uruguay, and a near miss with Ricardo Klement (real name Adolf Eichmann!). More recent visits, provided an opportunity to see and experience the wonders of Incan engineering.
16 Ley Lines, Corridors of curiosity, I first noticed some of these ancient Ley Linesalignments in the late 70's when researching Bristol's Temple Church, it soon became evident that Temple Church seemed to occupy a significant position in relation to other local historic sites such as churches, crosses, springs, roads, tracks, standing (or fallen) stones and other topographical features. Discoveries of interesting and historic features are still being made along these Corridors of curiosity.
17 Tracing adventurous ancestors - or Skeletons in the sand - a modern adventure, my ancestors were ship owners, sea-captains, priests, teachers and merchants, with some Privateering and Gun-running thrown in for good measure! One who was Clerk in Holy Orders to King James the Sixth of Scotland at Holyrood Palace, became Chaplain to Bristol's Admiral Martin Pring, (whose memorial is in St Stephen's Church, off Bristol city centre). He then retired to become a schoolmaster and preacher in Bermuda, banished to a desert isle for non-conformism, in his eighties survived a shipwreck and ended his days in a cave. How I made the discovery and was able to visit to his last resting place in a deserted cave three and a half thousand miles away as well as being a good story may help others researching distant and far-flung ancestors.

These last two are fictional stories based upon facts - but are designed to include helpful research tips
18 "Leave no Stone un-returned" or "A narrow escape?" a chilling story about an archaeologist who removed an artefact from a dig, an act that had terrible consequences.
19 "The Tool" a story about a nineteenth century loss that because of the craftsman's noble spirit, had far reaching consequences. This story is used as a light hearted vehicle to give the audience an idea of some different sources and methods when carrying out research into family members who emigrated to America
20 'Some amazing things no longer Science Fiction'


If you still haven't seen something within your interests on this extensive list, remember our Bristol project files (see www.history4u.info ) have in-depth coverage of more than 110 topics, and it is more than likely that I can provide your society with an illustrated talk, exhibition or walk centred on your particular interests.

My 2008 normal rates are £40 plus transport. I use an LCD projector and laptop or 35mm slide projector. I also have a projection screen but as they are cumbersome I prefer not to bring it unless requested.
Please let me know.

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