Sunday, 22 February 2009

On the pop in Market North Town

I recently spent a nice day out in Chipping Norton, a fine market town in North West Oxfordshire, just on the edge of the Cotswolds. It's name is Anglo-Saxon meaning Market North Town. As a National Anarchist, its the sort of place that appeals to my own personal interpretation of the ideology. For me National Anarchism implies rural living - and traditional English market towns are I think,the biggest settlements where National Anarchist communities could work. Urban life does not usually imply happiness and large cities tend to smother human nature and spirit. I know other National Anarchists may disagree and if they can make urban based National Autonomous Zones work, then great. For me though I'd tend to go for the homestead, hamlet, village or market town. Here we are closer to nature, we are closer to our ethnic and cultural heritage and identity. We become more like our ancestors, closer to our folk roots and less defined by the state (citizen = city dweller, remember) And with land of our own we can begin to ween ourselves off the globalised economy. We become human beings again, not consumers.

Anyway, Chippy, as locals call it, seemed the sort of place at ease with itself. It was apparent that lots of people knew each other (none of that alienating anonymity you get in cities) and apart from a Somerfields and a Smiths, the place positively oozed its own identity. Needless to say I paid a visit to one or two pubs - well, four in fact - all of which were above average in this pub goer's book (praise indeed, as I have high standards) My personal favourite was the Red Lion (can you get more English than that?)The tiny pub was pleasingly cosy due to a roaring log fire - which, what with it being taters outside, was most welcome. The ale was from Hook Norton Brewery just down the road, a fact alone which was enough to warm this anti-globalist's heart!

A commanding early Victorian Town Hall dominates the market square, where I was pleased to discover an old stone from a long gone cross and pillar from an earlier building had been preserved by the local history group. Local history and civic societies act as guardians of our identities and are worth their weight in gold. National Anarchists should support their work.

The parish church of St Mary the Virgin was largish for the settlement it served, probably partly because it was built on the proceeds of the wool trade of the middle ages. I was not, alas, as keen on it as I was with St Andrew's at Shrivenham in Berkshire when I visited it just before Christmas. It had generations of the same families laying in rest there. How many families in today's industrial-technological complex can claim roots as strong as that? Capitalism causes identity crises, that's a fact!

What I had really come to see in Chippy, however, was the nearby Norman Castle. Only the earthworks of the defences and ramparts remain. If I had just stumbled across it I would have said it was Iron Age. Still, it was impressive: the outer ditch would at least clear your average semi at its height.

What vexed me, however, was that the site was all on private land and could only be viewed from the lane. Furthermore, there was nothing denoting what it was. No plaque with description, no notice, nothing. The castle should ideally be bought by the National Trust with access where appropriate, and have some stone with description or similar. This is English heritage so consequently part of the fabric of a folk, a footnote in the story of a people. But who cares about such reactionary trifles when February is LGBT History Month, eh?