As a tribute to the LSX Occupy Group’s New Putney Debates to coincide with the 365th Anniversary of the original Leveller Debates at the end of the First English Civil War, I decided to post the whole of my 2007 film ‘Voices of Albion’ up on the Merlinhedd Youtube Channel, in its entirety, for the very first time. The film itself is essentially an historical examination of the descent of the Stonehenge Free Festival Movement and its successors, including the Anti-CJB Movement, the Advance Party and others, from the seventeenth century Levellers and Diggers: who were ultimately to inspire many of the current participants in the Occupy Movement: and in particular Occupy London.
The original founder of the Stonehenge Free Festival as we all came to know it was the late Wally Hope. In 1974 Wally was to organize the first ever Stonehenge People’s Free Festival. Not so very long after, so the story goes, he was arrested, sent to prison and eventually died under what have been generally referred to as ‘strange and unexplained circumstances’. In an age before the internet, digital media and mobile ‘phones, this sort of occurrence was an everyday reality for people engaged in the kind of activities that Wally and his confederates espoused.
According to the internationally acclaimed author John Michell, whose many published works on Stonehenge were to include ‘Ancient Metrology’, ‘The View Over Atlantis’, ‘City of Revelation’ etc. etc. etc. Wally’s ashes were ceremonially scattered among the Stones during the course of the second Stonehenge Free Festival. My own personal experience of John Michell, who I knew extremely well, was that although he was very in touch with the archaeological, astronomical and mathematical aspect of the Stones themselves, and what they actually represented in both physical and spiritual terms, he had very little genuine down to earth contact with the people who were actually involved with the Festival itself: other than through the odd participant such as the present writer.
It therefore came as something of a surprise and a delight when I was contacted out of the blue by members of the group that Wally was to found before his untimely death, who were to refer to themselves forever after as the Wallies, within hours of putting ‘Voices of Albion’ up on to Youtube. More delightful still was the revelation that Wally’s ashes are presently in their custodianship, and that through them his spirit, and ultimately, his goals, live on. Even more strange and interesting than this, perhaps, was the additional fact that I had been invited to join the Facebook group that they themselves had founded in his honour just hours before the third anniversary of its creation. It was as if Wally was trying to reach out and communicate with me from beyond the grave.
Wally’s principal aspiration in terms of the Free Festival that he founded was to ensure its perpetuation to the end of time. The fact that in the eighteenth century the Revd. William Stukeley, who, together with the seventeenth century antiquarian John Aubrey, had been amongst the first to recognize the true significance of the Stones, had also concluded that the traditional festival that had taken place there in his day, and was to continue on into the nineteenth century, was almost certainly descended from prehistoric antecedents, only goes to show that Wally was divinely inspired. This also placed it in the realm of Custom Law and Common Right in terms of the Festival’s legality, something that I shall be looking at in depth and detail during the course of the next several weeks and months in this blog.
The picture at the top of this posting is an early nineteenth century impression of what the eighteenth century festivals at Stonehenge would or could have looked like in prehistoric times. It is based on an earlier, although somewhat less elaborate, artistic impression by Stukeley, whose principal conclusion that the enactment of such ancient rights had been passed down from time immemorial, was to be taken up by the nineteenth century Chartists: themselves in every way the lineal descendants of the Levellers and the Diggers. In due course we shall look at this lineal descent more fully, as well as the link between the Chartists themselves and the earliest Orders of Druids: many of whose principals were equally revolutionary in origin.
Readers of this posting anxious to know more about John Michell’s unique personal insight into the legal controversies surrounding the Festival should check out his Radical Traditionalist Paper Number 6, published back in 1985 at the height of the battle between the Festival goers and the Authorities in relation to who should have rights of access to the Stones and whether or not a Festival should be allowed to go on there. Entitled ‘Stonehenge: Its Druids, Custodians, Festival and Future’, it provides an interesting perspective upon the legacy of Wally Hope.