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Archive for May, 2011

Bullrings in Tamworth

In an effort to adjust back to life in Blighty I’ve looked for similarities between life in Valencia, Spain and Tamworth, UK to little success. I’ve had to delve into the history books again to see if I could find anything similar and woe betold, there was a(sort of) bull ring in Tamworth just like back in Valencia close to my old home.

arrow pointing in direction of my old home, just out of range of the smell of bullshit, no pun intended

Bull baiting was a popular pastime in English town life from the middle ages up until the late 18th century(even later in the West Midlands) and Tamworth was no exception. It consisted basically of tying the bull to a stake in a central square and setting dogs on the animal, pretty unsavoury stuff but in its time it was actually unlawful  to slaughter the bull before being baited. Apparently it gave the bull meat more taste and the fines would have probably been a source of income for local authorities.

bull baiting scene above

This can all be testified in Tamworth, where Charles Ferrers in his resourceful Tamworth  book tells us that the book rolls of the town show us that persons had been fined for killing the animals before being  baited.He goes on to say that the ring (probably at most consisting of railings which together with stake and rope were regularly mended) was at the junction of Bolebridge street with  Coleshill and George Street with the last bull baits happening in the 17th century . George Street he later states  was actually called Bullstake street in reference to the stake used to tie the bull, before being renamed George Street in the 19th century. In looking for more details on the bull baiting I got all excited when I came across the book the history of signboards where it stated that bullrunning was practiced in Tamworth and Stamford. Yes just like the famous Pamplona bull running. This was a double discovery as bull running in England was a new one for me and that it had happened at Tamworth!!! Alas it was too good to be true, the book had mistaken Tutbury with Tamworth where a bull run was indeed practiced. Still the fact that bull running existed in England in towns like nearby Tutbury and Stamford is a great novelty fact to bring up in the conversation or maybe to think about when running like a demon down the slippery streets of Pamplona, Spain.

Getting all misty eyed and nostalgic about Valencia I went to look at the site of the old  bull ring in Tamworth, with the resulting furtively taken photo below:

Incredibly and by accident the bull ring echoed through into the present in the form of the circular brick flooring and the metal posting nearby in the modern day crossroads. Ok maybe I’m reading too much into it and it’s true if you’re  looking for coincidences you’ll find them sooner or later. Whatever though enough of mundane explanations for me it opened up the thought that ancient sites maybe could echo through to the present day through modern architectural accidents. Almost like an unconscious effort on the part of the building developers to pay tribute to old places. Former sites bending the will of modern building developments to produce phantom echos of the past. Ok there’s the idea now more proof in the Tamworth Timehikes area of what I’m thinking about:

Well how about Copes drive written about in this previous post.It’s highly botched pot holed surface with  pebbles showing through isn’t the result of an impasse between local authorities and residents, no  it’s because it’s ancientness is shining through the cracks, being  one of the oldest routes in the Leyfields housing estate.

Below in an attempt to photograph the slight dip in the ground by a house next to the ladybank, Tamworth with the river in front of it. This dip just happens to roughly correspond to the Anglo Saxon ditch surrounding the town(see previous post). Coincidence, or an echo from the past?

Anymore examples out there?

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