By Haydn Wheeler, historian and author
Back in October 2022 I was intrigued to read of a new arts heritage project centred around Badbury Rings. Emerald Ant had posted via their Facebook page:
“Calling Wimborne Folk – We are planning a new arts heritage project at Badbury Rings, culminating in a night time event in 2023. If you live near there please come along to our open sessions and give your ideas and suggestions”.
In seeing a meeting scheduled at Museum of East Dorset, Wimborne, I was keen to put forward a suggestion, a passion of mine, regarding a group of people who in the Civil Wars of the Three Kingdoms (known more commonly as the English Civil War) had seen fit to exclude themselves from either side. Royalist and Parliamentarian alike, were seen by this generality of the population as in an unjust fight. Weary of the Civil Wars and wanting a peace between King and Parliament this group of people got together as an association and went under the name of The Clubmen.
With the publication of a new book on The Clubmen I had been working on in hand, I made my way to the meeting. This was to be the start of a journey. A suggestion I had put forward at the Wimborne meeting, one cold day last October, had been embraced. Little did I know at the time, I would soon be working with Wimborne Community Theatre and Millstream Theatre, on a theatrical representation of a rendezvous of Clubmen who met at Badbury in 1645. It was now in production!
Giving a talk on The Clubmen with these theatre groups was my first task. The location of this talk was uncannily apt. – my old first school in Wimborne, which is now a community hub. Entering my old classroom I felt the presence of Mrs Radcliffe (my teacher) in the room, and with her at the forefront of my mind, I gave a good talk, she would be so proud!
At my first rehearsal of the Clubmen meeting at Badbury Rings, we all went through our parts, reflecting what these people, who wanted no part of a civil war, had to endure in 1645. I was now a ‘scythe man’ having lost my crop and income.
Having written about this historical event, the story now leapt into life – from paper to theatrical performance. It is not only a joy to take part in, but also a chance to become closer to a time in history when: ‘The World Turned Upside Down.’
Visit my website where you can watch a short film explaining the back story and history of The Clubmen and the English Revolution https://www.clubmen1645.com