Lansdown Hall Gallery, Stroud. August 2019

View of Stroud looking south from Stroud Slad Farm camping field.

Stroud is an interesting town, more so if one is visiting from Totnes in Devon. Why? Because there are some similarities which inform about both Places.

Nestled in a valley on the edge of the limestone Cotswold Hills, Stroud is a small town about a mile or so from Stroud Slad Farm where I decided to camp for a week during my visit to Lansdown Hall Gallery, the venue of my exhibition: Stitches in Time.

A typical day during my stay was as follows:
Wake up and have a shower in the barn in time to watch the sunrise at 6.00am.
Walk down into Stroud picking plums and blackberries en route.
Arrive at the Gallery by 8.00am and say “hi” to Levon, the Bulgarian cleaner.
Prepare the exhibition, replacing exhibits that may have been sold the previous day with new ones. Put out information and posters on A-frames in the street then have breakfast and coffee before opening the gallery doors at 10.00am.

Penny and Jessy from the Gallery were more than helpful during my stay but the highlight of the week was visiting the pedestrianised town centre (an improvement on Totnes) and artisan food and farmers’ market on Saturday morning. This event really shows a colourful local character and verve, just like Totnes market on a Friday.

Meeting residents from Stroud was also fascinating…

Everyone who came into the exhibition had a story to tell, some in a West country accent as broad as that of the locals in Devon, but with more of a ‘twang’ similar to that which I have also heard in Bristol!

I particularly enjoyed a visit from Andrew, Stroud born and bred, who explained some of the dichotomies that exist between original indigenous ‘Stroudies’ and newer arrivals. Andrew’s anscestors were apparently story tellers so his turn of phrase could arguably be innate!

Alan Peacey, another local bard, was born and bred in nearby Brimscombe and he has written a poem about being a ‘Stroudie’.
In the poem, references to “the pub” can be taken literally or as a synonym for just going about our lives.

The Incomers

“I was born and bred in Stroud
They’ve knocked down Hill Street
Shouldn’t be allowed
Oh well lets go to the pub.

I’m just a Stroudie
Head in the cloudy
It’s nothing to do with me
I’d rather be in the pub.

I was born and bred in Stroud
They’ve knocked down Nelson Street Almshouse
Shouldn’t be allowed
Oh well lets go to the pub.

I’m just a Stroudie
Head in the cloudy
It’s nothing to do with me
I’d rather be in the pub.

They came to Stroud
From who knows where
They liked the town and took a share
Perhaps they thought no one was here
We were all down at the pub.

They came to Stroud just in time
They took a stand and held the line
They sat on buildings sat in trees
Lobbied councillors and MPs
While we all sat in the pub.

There’s now an easy peace about
The oncelers press but we hold out
Us Stroudies and our new found friends
We love our town and all it means
Now you can barely tell us apart in the pub.”

I must give a special thanks to Sue McQuail of Lansdown whose patronage, hospitality and generosity during my visit will always be remembered.

Khirghiz felted wool bridal hanging circa early 20th century

Khirghiz felted bridal hanging

I was kept busy repairing various items brought in by local residents for my attention, amongst which was an attractive Mongolian or Tibetan saddle rug
Tibetan saddle rug

All in all it was a very enjoyable week! Thanks again to all at Lansdown Hall Gallery Stroud
Lansdown Hall Gallery Stitches in Time

So I now go from Stroud, where Extinction Rebellion began, to Totnes: one of the first Transition Towns.
Stitches in Time: Exhibition of Antique Global Ethnic Carpets, rugs and Textiles – Monday October 28th – Saturday November 2nd. Birdwood House Gallery, 44 High Street, Totnes, Devon TQ9 5SG