Newsletter – July 2009

Summer shows

Our summer show season began in June at the Church Stretton Summerfest and continues apace, details below. The Summerfest was an excellent event drawing a lot of visitors at which we learned why everyone (except us) weighted their gazebo down with filled water carriers. A sudden gust of wind left me and a kind visitor holding on to the legs of the gazebo to prevent it sailing over the rooftops. Lesson learned.

We would be delighted to see you at any of these upcoming events and promise you won’t be called upon to keep our display grounded:

  • 18 July – Newport Show
  • 25/26 July – Chetwynd Medieval Fair
  • 6 August – Burwarton Show
  • 15/16 August – Shrewsbury Flower Show

Taking a stand

I recently attended a display techniques workshop run by WiRE (Women in Rural Enterprise) to learn how to design an effective trade stand. Apparently one in four purchases are made on the back of an attractive display, but most of us don’t realise we are being influenced by the way the seller displays their goods. This is probably true although I can spot nice shoes at 100 yards however they are displayed. Nevertheless we have revamped our exhibition display to incorporate what we learned and will be gauging visitor feedback during our summer shows.

A prudence of vicars

Well, a score of vicars doesn’t sound quite right, even though there were twenty of them who had lived in a former vicarage we researched recently. This was a delightful 300-year-old house which was only sold by the Church in 1960. Church properties are great to research because there is more chance of finding information about the building as any changes had to be approved by the bishop and were consequently well-documented. In this case I found the plans for the installation of a bath and hot water system which showed how each room was used in 1913. This was accompanied by an application for funding from the incumbent who seemed very reluctant to move into the property until these facilities were installed and operational. And who can blame him?

Incidentally if you had lived in this particular Shropshire parish in 1699, in addition to the usual tithes on corn, hay, fruit, wool, fowl, etc. you would have had to pay cash at the rate of a penny for a barren cow, two pence a piece for housekeepers, servants and each child over sixteen, but four pence for a colt. Interesting rating system don’t you think?

Fair exchange

A recent business barter in which I traded services with another Shropshire businesswoman, Sam Hatton of BlackStone PR, was a great success. Sam used her extensive marketing and PR skills to rewrite my brochure while I set about finding the first person to live in her Edwardian house in north Shropshire. I was able to find some old photographs of her street and tracked down Beatrice, daughter of a Lostford farmer who broke the law by marrying his deceased wife’s sister and who died leaving his widow with nine children to care for. Perhaps that was one reason that Beatrice and her sister were shipped off to a ladies boarding school in Chester. It just goes to show how even a small amount of research can uncover an interesting story. Sam completed her work with a press release about our ‘skill swap’ which was published in the Shropshire Star on 6 July.

From the archives – ‘Beware of bribery’

As politics seems to be à la mode at the moment, you might enjoy this notice published by the Reform Association a century and a half ago setting out the penalties for interfering in the political process. Too long to include in its entirety (the Victorians were verbose to a man) I include a few choice excerpts which begin with this headline-grabbing title (the exclamation marks and capitals are theirs, not mine):

‘Beware of bribery ! ! !

The plotting Tories are everywhere endeavouring to arrest the progress of Reform, by inducing the less honest and conscientious among the Electors to barter their Votes for base and sordid Bribes.

It becomes necessary, therefore, that true Reformers should take vigourous measures for counteracting the word of corruption, by enforcing, with unrelenting severity, the rigours of the Law against all who are wicked or weak enough to betray their Country and their trust, to the enemies of the People.

With this view, it is resolved to keep a vigilant watch on every Man’s conduct …

It therefore well behoves every Elector who would be mean and vile enough to accept the wages of political infamy, as well as those who might be willing to become the tools of an unprincipled faction … to consider the consequences …’

The penalty for both briber and bribed was £500 and a spell in prison.

Have a great summer.

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