Gibbet

RALPH HOYTE

romancing the gibbet - poster picture

UWE’s Regional History Centre (RHC) launches a series of located smartphone apps with a difference this month: each designed to immerse users in the emotional world of Georgian capital punishment – in the quiet, lonely fields and hilltops where they originally took place.

The extraordinary 18th-century practice of hanging and sometimes gibbeting some felons (exhibiting their bodies to public view in iron cages) at the scene of their crime was intended to leave an indelible and exemplary impression on disorderly villages and small towns. They were usually staged in remote locations before very large crowds and were spectacular, expensive and theatrical events, unlikely ever to be forgotten by anyone who witnessed them.

Working in partnership with Bristol-based digital design and app developers, Satsymph, the RHC has developed walking tours at four of these sites in the West Country. Visitors can download the apps for free HERE and then walk the site while immersed in a creative and evocative soundscape.

REGIONAL HISTORY CENTRE / UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF ENGLAND PRESS RELEASE WITH LINKS.
DOWNLOAD PDF HERE:

GO TO THE SATSYMPH PAGE for further information and details on how to download the murder trail app and follow the trail yourself: HERE

The Ballad of Johny Walford
[extract only]

STOP 2

A simple country lad I am
Charcoal burner by my trade
In Quantock woods day-long toil I
To cut wood and heap earth with my spade

To cut wood and heap earth with my spade,
ye gentlefolk
All the live-long day
And hourly keep watch thru’ the cold black night
When Quantock witches they hold sway

When Quantock witches they hold sway, my love
High on Dowsborough their appetites sate
What availeth it a simple man
To set himself against his fate?

final 1-3

The Ballad of Johny Walford GPS-triggered murder trail walk for the smartphone: a poetic response to an actual historic event in the Quantock Hills of Somerset

[REFRAIN]

Jane, O! Jane Shorney
O! had I ne’er heard that name
Jane, O! Thru’ Jane Shorney
Committed I that act insane

I have endured nights so lonely
You townfolk scarce could dream
When all around the orb of space
The planets weave unseen

The planets weave unseen, my love
The planets weave on high
The planets loud to me did call:
Tomorrow shall ye die

Tomorrow shall I die? I ask
Yet answer gave they none
All above yon gnarled beech wood
They wheeled – and were gone
[REFRAIN]

Jane, O! Jane Shorney
O! had I ne’er heard that name
Jane, O! Thru’ Jane Shorney
Committed I that act insane

The planets have their paths ordained
Are men yet free to choose?
Or ‘tis a throw of the reckless dice
That says ‘I win… you lose’?

‘I win, you lose’, the voice proclaimed
And writ my name upon the wall
Oh shrive me, shrive me saints above!
Myself do I appal.

Myself I did appal, my dears
As within my head
Wove their way my tangled desires –
I shudder’d and woke in dread

[REFRAIN]

Jane, O! Jane Shorney
O! had I ne’er heard that name
Jane, O! Thru’ Jane Shorney
Committed I that act insane

vox pox from the Over Stowey performance

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