Saturday, 25 April 2015

English Heritage and all that

Tim Hawke: Humourless killjoy.

I started this post a couple of months back, but then along came the Exposure: Charities Behaving Badly documentary and I got sidetracked. Just as well I waited, really, as the documentary shone a little bit of light on this particular incident from the Steadfast Trust's history...

Back in 2013, Tim Hawke (at the time a trustee of the Steadfast Trust, and - last I heard - chairman of the Ipswich English Community Group) spluttered with indignation after a trip to Battle Abbey:

The quotation - apparently one of several which decorate the Battle Abbey cafe - comes from 1066 and All That by W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman, a spoof textbook originally published in 1930 and something of a national institution ever since.

The book is filled with deliberately absurd statements to give the impression that it was written by a confused schoolchild ("John was so bad that the Pope decided to put the whole country under an Interdict, i.e. he gave orders that no one was to be born or die or marry"). The quotation about the Norman Conquest is another obvious joke: it was good that we were invaded, because afterwards we weren't invaded again. Anybody with a sense of humour can see this.

So, does Tim Hawke lack a sense of humour, or is he only pretending to be offended? After all, the Steadfast Trust is dedicated to pretending that English people are the most persecuted group in the country; it is easy to imagine Hawke and his peers rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of having something to have a good moan about.

The Steadfast Trust condemned the sign in a newsletter:

'English Heritage Offensive Wallboard 
Supporters of the Steadfast Trust brought to the attention of their charity a very offensive wallboard display on the grounds of the English Heritage site of Battle Abbey in their Café.
The Steadfast Trust has made a complaint to English Heritage after this was further confirmed by a Trustee of the charity. The contents of the complaint is provided below and we shall keep you informed of how this issue progresses. 
Dear English Heritage 
The Steadfast Trust has been made aware by a number of its supporters of a large wallboard which is publicly displayed at the onsite café at Battle Abbey. 
On it there is offensive wording concerning the after-effects of the Norman Conquest .
The wallboard proclaims "The Norman Conquest Was A Good Thing as from this time onwards England stopped being conquered and thus was able to become top nation".
It is clear that an English Heritage researcher has lifted a quote from the satirical history1066 and all that by W.C Sellar and R.J Yeatman which was written in 1930. However sensibilities change and English Heritage should be aware that this rather dated, superficial satire sits uncomfortably with todays visitors. Modern interpretations of the aftermath of the Norman invasion show us that rather than being good the wholesale destruction of English culture, loss of its king, ancient aristocracy and elite fighting force was an unimaginable catastrophe on an unprecedented scale for the surviving English population. The Steadfast Trust and its supporters would therefore request that you consider the offence and upset this wallboard has caused to those of our cultural charity (which actively promotes English Heritage and its aims), as well as to those of the general public. 
Please remove this insensitive paragraph from the wallboard. 
Yours sincerely 
Trustee Mark Taylor 
Steadfast Trust 
P.S. The Steadfast Trust would be prepared to consider offering a grant towards the funding of such re-wording . 
Its important that we as a community do not tolerate such insulting information being imposed upon our younger generation.'

Well, at least Mark Taylor acknowledges that the sign is meant as a joke, something that Hawke appears not to have noticed. But his filibustering about how offensive he finds the sign becomes laughably hypocritical when we consider the kinds of comments that Taylor appears to have posted on YouTube under the name "Seaxwielder":

Hmmm... trying to get in on that growth industry yourself, Mark?

On 19 October 2013, the Rye and Battle Observer published a report about the sign being vandalised to read "The Norman Conquest was a Holocaust which still effects [sic] the English today":

'A PRO-SAXON movement could be behind a graffiti attack at Battle Abbey, police have said.

Two men walked into the Battle Abbey cafe on Monday afternoon with a homemade stencil. One man placed the stencil over text on the wall while the other man proceeded to spray red paint over it. The graffiti read ‘Holocaust which still affects the English today’ - referring to the Battle of Hastings. The two men then fled, heading in opposite directions.

Battle Police were called to the scene just after 4.45pm. A short time later, officers arrested a man in Mountjoy, whose hands were found to be covered in red paint. The man was questioned by police and admitted the offence.

The man, who hails from Poole in Dorset, had no previous convictions. He received a caution from Sussex Police. The second vandal has yet to be caught. English Heritage says work is underway to remove the graffiti from the history display. A spokesperson for English Heritage said:

“Unfortunately, a group of people came to Battle Abbey and sprayed the walls of the cafe with graffiti at around 4pm on Monday October 14. “English Heritage staff called the police who arrested one of them.

“We have covered the graffiti and are urgently investigating the best way to remove it from the wall which is part of our display about the history of the site. “We are helping the police with their investigations.'

Exposure revealed that Darren Clarke was one of the men responsible for this vandalism. The documentary also revealed that Clarke was involved in a later bout of vandalism at Norwich Castle Museum, and that Tim Hawke knew of his activities there.

The graffiti was celebrated by the English Shieldwall campaign group:

Atrociter, a member of Stormfront, also endorsed the vandalism, referring to the sign as "Pro Norman bollocks":

Julia "Angelcynn" Howman chimed in as well, deriding English Heritage as "Marxist":

Ah, isn't political philosophy so much simpler when you can use "Marxist" as a catch-all term for anyone you disagree with?

Tim Hawke was amongst those lending their support to the act of vandalism, sending an angry letter to an English Heritage representative:

'Back in August I informed you that Battle Abbey was displaying a terribly ignorant and offensive statement. It has come to my attention that the board displaying the following statement…‘The Norman Conquest Was A Good Thing’ has been defaced with the words ‘Holocaust which still effects the English today’ (I have attached a picture of this to the email). Sadly I must confess to having total sympathy with those who committed this act.  I do hope English Heritage has the sense to recognise the awful outrage that has been caused here by English Heritage. 
Unless you take steps to correct your errors I do know that the kind of behaviour that took place on Monday October 14 will continue and sadly escalate to alarming levels. 
You have a large number of venerable structures throughout the nation which logically could be vandalised in protest of your actions at Battle. Windmills such as Saxtead Green Post Mill or Berney Arms Windmill could be totally destroyed through simple acts of arson and imagine the harm this would cause to our organisation were it made known that this stemmed from an Anglophobic act at Battle Abbey by English Heritage. 
You are the custodians of the English peoples heritage and by deliberately insulting our proud/tragic past with your childish controversy you risk so much, particularly when the many aggrieved can strike at any time at any place. 
I do hope you have the intellect to take my advice seriously, if not then it will be clear that you hold nothing but contempt for the English and there will be those who understand that further corruption of our historic sites by English Heritage may only be stopped through aggressive displays. This would sadden me greatly.'

[Emphasis mine.]

It sounds like something out of an old gangster film, doesn't it? Gee, ma'am, look at all those purdy windmills. Sure would be a shame if someone set fire to them...

What, exactly, was going through Hawke's mind when he wrote this? Does he seriously believe that there are "many aggrieved" who are prepared to launch an arson campaign against historical monuments because of a joke about the Battle of Hastings?

If he does believe this, then he must surely be aware that such people could only come from the Englisc nationalist movement. Hawke is a prominent figure within this subculture, so if he is truly concerned, then he would be better off trying to discourage his flock from acts of terrorism, rather than blaming English Heritage.

Finally, I will leave you with this posting from Lee Ingram's Steadfast Trust-approved English Advocates Facebook page:

...Which round about sums up my thoughts on 1066 and All That.

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