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Locals seek to save Jane Austen church from new arrivals

Local matters, now, in the Cotswolds, where some locals might be more local than others. It’s all about when it’s right and proper to lay down your marker.

The Leigh family took possession of Adlestrop Park, formerly monastic land, in 1553. The land was handed down the family line. Things were built on it. One Leigh, the Rev Thomas Leigh (d 1813), was uncle of the novelist Jane Austen, who visited the family pile and assorted buildings in 1794, and again in 1799 and 1806. Some suppose the place inspired Austen to create Sotherton Court, the estate in her book Mansfield Park.

An historian notes:

Jane Austen stayed with her Leigh cousins at Adlestrop several times and kept in constant touch with events there by letter. It was in Gloucestershire that she saw at first-hand how the eighteenth-century craze for improvements totally changed the village landscape. It is probable that Adlestrop Park and the Parsonage House inspired fictional places such as Thornton Lacey in Mansfield Park.

The Leighs don’t live in the village they changed in a flurry of faddish spending. Their former estate is owned by the Collins family. They dug deep into the pockets and helped fund the refurbishment of the local church’s five bells.

Now the rector and churchwardens have asked a consistory court to let Dominic Collins install a hatchment, a coat of arms display, in the church in memory of his late wife. But the idea was opposed by local historian and Austen expert Victoria Huxley, who said it was inappropriate to install a memorial to a family who were not the Leighs.

She writes:

“I was very surprised that someone with a relatively short link to the village (compared to the age of the church) should seek to place their coat of arms in the church, and I do not think that most people in the village have been alerted to this request… feel that only a family which has strong ties over several generations should have such a display.”

Are you local enough?

June Rogers, chancellor of the diocese of Gloucester, is unimpressed with that reasoning, arguing: “The Jane Austen connection does not preserve in aspic this church. As the Leighs succeeded Evesham Abbey, so the Collins family is now in residence. Another layer has been added to the life and continuity of this village.”

Hasn’t it always been about marking the wealthy’s territory, including being closer to God and other seats of power than thee? As one visitor to Adlestrop writes:

Inside the church are many marble memorials to the Leigh family both on the walls and on the floor of the nave… On the north wall of the nave are some Leigh family hatchments showing their dynastic marriages to the Twisleton and Brydges family..

The tower has a clock on its north and east side which was added to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, and the fine arch and lantern at the entrance to the churchyard were added on her Diamond Jubilee. The sundial in the churchyard marks Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee.

No word on the local peasants. And not much sign of them, neither.

Posted: 15th, February 2018 | In: News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Epic fail: Cambridge News front-page headline clanger

The Cambridge News has an epic headline on today’s front page. “100PT SPLASH HEADING HERE.”


cambridge news typo


The BBC has fun:


cambridge news typo

Posted: 6th, December 2017 | In: Tabloids | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Cromer lock down: Norfolk police lies and fears of a pogrom

cromer police


At 13:33 on August 19 2017, Norfolk Constabulary declared that the seaside town of Cromer was a no-go area. Hurricane? Terrorists? What happened to close a town? Deprived of a Town Crier, police reached out to the locals via Facebook, whereon the following message appeared:

We have additional resources in Cromer tonight following reports of low-level disorder earlier today. We are aware licensees of local pubs have taken the decision to close this evening and we will have additional officers on patrol to provide reassurance to the local community. We are also aware of mentions on social media relating to a stabbing in the town tonight – we can confirm no such incident has been reported to us.

Curious minds might wonder why an entire British seaside town had been closed. Are Norfolk people so fearful that one rumoured stabbing sends them scuttling for the cellars? No serious crime occurred. The police statement was clear on that.

Helping us get to the bottom of the story was the Eastern Daily Press. Published by Archant in Norwich, a mere 24 miles from the scene, the paper told readers:

Norfolk police moved to reassure residents, saying they had only been called to reports of low-level disorder on Saturday, including thefts from Morrisons and a pitch and putt course.

No big deal, then. Although the EDP did note that the decision of many businesses to shut on a what should have been a busy Saturday night..:

The move coincided with the arrival of a group of travellers who set up camp in the town’s Runton Road car park…

With few places open in town, a large group of people were spotted walking in the middle of the road from Runton Road to Seacroft caravan and campsite in Cromer.

However, police later blocked the entrance before the crowd were later seen leaving the site.

Over on the BBC, no word on the travellers. But we do hear from the police:

Supt Malcolm Cooke of Norfolk Police said: “We acknowledge there have been a number of incidents in Cromer over the weekend, which will understandably cause concern. However, I can assure residents these incidents have been dealt with appropriately and are of a nature routinely dealt with in towns such as Cromer on a busy August weekend.”

No-one reported what really happened. Indeed on the Norfolk police know what did not happen


cromer police rape travellers

On the Norfolk Police website


Norfolk Police Deputy Chief Constable Nick Dean told media on August 21:

“Cromer is a very safe town, this is an isolated incident. We can’t deny a group of the travelling community were in north Norfolk at that particular time. But to put the blame completely on the travelling community as a whole, I think is totally disproportionate.”

The police were on message. But they are worried that the good people of Cromer were not. Why did police send out the wrong information? Do they view the good people of Cromer as a pogrom in waiting, knuckle-heads who will turn on Travellers, blaming them all for the alleged crimes of a few? The message seems to be that you should be less on the look out for the alleged villains than you should watch yourself for signs of prejudice. Rather than policing the streets, the police were examining minds for signs of possible hate crimes.

On September 6, police issued a new statement. Chief Constable Simon Bailey explained what constitutes low-level crime:

 “There were a number of incidences of theft, of anti-social behaviour, of criminal damage and we misjudged our message, and I’m sorry that we got that message wrong. We got it wrong, we’ll learn the lessons. It won’t happen again. Part of our review will look at our media messages. I’m genuinely sorry that we created the impression that this was a low-level disorder. We had a rape which, whilst at the time we didn’t connect to the group, we are now absolutely connecting.” “

Alleged theft and rape are now classified as “low-level”crimes.



Hats of to the police for admitting their error. But why not just stick to the facts? Why send out a ‘message’? They’ve yet to explain why they did that.


Posted: 10th, September 2017 | In: News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Local News watch: Oldham Evening Chronicle shuts for good



Farewell, the Oldham Evening Chronicle (founded in 1854). The paper has closed after 163 years reporting on the borough. It’s a bitter blow for the staff and those on the Chronicle’s four monthly stablemates – the Oldham Extra, Saddleworth Extra, Tameside Extra and the Dale Times.

In June the Chronicle had a circulation of 6,408. One was bought  by John Gilder, who had worked with the paper since 1981. He tells the BBC: “It will be sadly missed. It generates a lot of chat among local people. Before I found out, I popped into the shop and bought a copy without knowing it was the last one. I like reading a physical newspaper but very sadly it’s no more.”


Posted: 31st, August 2017 | In: Money, News | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Grenfell: a failure of local journalism

Emily Bell points to why no-one was listening when the residents of Grenfell were campaigning for improved safety. The horror as preventable. But no-one was listening. No-one was reporting things in a local newspaper the powerful didn’t want residents to know.

She hears Ishmahil Blagrove tells Sky News:

“This is not just a story – this situation has been brewing for years … You the media, you are the mouthpiece of this government and you make it possible.” Later Blagrove describes the mainstream media as “a bunch of motherfuckers” to a small crowd surrounding him who break into polite applause. Channel 4’s Jon Snow faced an angry group outside Grenfell the same day, asking him where the press was when the fire safety concerns were first raised.

…the evisceration of any sustainable professional journalism at the local level creates both an accountability vacuum and a distance between media and the communities it reports on.

As well as council-owned outlets, a plethora of glossy lifestyle and housing media mop up the advertising revenue not ingested by Facebook or Google. The local publication Kensington, Chelsea & Westminster Today – listed as the only free newspaper in the borough – has no local reporting at all.

Grant Feller has more, recalling his time as a reporter on and then editor of the local Kensington newspaper:

I had forgotten about those stories until this week. And I had forgotten about my first week on the Kensington News, when the then leader of the borough’s Labour group, Rima Horton –inspirational, quick-witted and not a little scary – walked me round the area and conspiratorially said: ‘You can make a real difference here. A story in the local paper, getting their picture in somewhere, won’t just lift them, it will give them fuel to fight for what’s right.’

We talk about community and religious leaders as being the lifeblood of neighbourhoods but we forget that local newspapers are too. There are an essential ingredient in the fabric of society, a cornerstone of democracy. Or were. Recent research suggest that up to 80 per cent of UK local newspaper journalism jobs have gone since 2006, and almost 200 titles have closed in the past decade. According to research last year from media analysts at Enders, circulations of local titles have halved since 2007 from 50.5m a week to 26.6m. At the same time, print advertising has fallen from £2.7bn to £977m.

Because 20-odd years ago, local newspapers mattered. They had access to people, information and events that made genuinely important stories. It was why door-stopper council agendas sent in the post were among the most important documents local reporters received. We pored over every single one of them to find potentially interesting leads. Such as committee debates about whether or not to use flammable cladding in tower block renovation works and the suspect backgrounds of companies chosen to carry out those works.

Those stories rarely make it into the public consciousness unless an enthusiastic local reporter, seeking the thrill of bylined fame and fuelled by the hopeful expectations of a local community desperate for their voices to be heard, takes it upon him or herself to get it out there. And because their future career rested on it, the story would have to be water-tight.

News stories start locally.

Spotter: Journalists Could Have Prevented The Grenfell Tower Disaster – As I Tried To Do 27 Years Ago

Posted: 26th, June 2017 | In: Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Regret the error: the Hampshire Chronicle spots a UKIP ‘c*nty councillor’

The Hampshire Chronicle regrets referring to UKIP’s Martin Lyton as something like a “county councillor” that “looked like a crude remark”:


fail typo


Spotter: @dderbyshire

PS – Is the TimesCaitlin Moran moonlighting on a local rag?

Posted: 8th, June 2017 | In: Politicians, Strange But True | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Fail: Labour MP and Brexit heroine Gisela Stuart is forgotten in Essex

gisela stuart Brexit funny


Top work in the Essex Chronicle, which captions the above picture: “Douglas Carswell with Boris Johnson and someone else on the Vote Leave tour bus.”

It’s factually correct. But that “someone else” happens to be Gisela Stuart, the Labour MP who spoke so eloquently in favour of the UK leaving the European Union.

It was Gisela Stuart who undermined the myth that a vote for Brexit was a vote for racism and only bigots wanted out.

Stuart understood that a vote for Brexit meant a vote for a more outward looking country, enabling the UK to trade with the EU and seek opportunities in Canada, Australia, India and elsewhere.

Stuart connected with working-class voters in a way that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his North London coterie of preaching patricians do not.

Stuart helped voters understand that a vote to make politicians more accountable was what a resilient, ambitious and aspirational demos deserved.


Spotter: @JoeTwyman

Posted: 30th, March 2017 | In: Key Posts, Politicians | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Local News Watch: the greatest two paragraphs of all time

Local News Watch: Adam Hart spots two paragraphs in the Western Gazette which, as he says, show us “journalism at its very best”.


local news watch


The story is about a car parking matters. Two cars have been spotted parked close together in Frome, Somerset. The local news hound places the happening in context: “They’re not the first two vehicles to have been pictured inches from one another in the town. A yellow Citroen parked inches away from a blue Volkswagen  at Sainsbury’s a few months ago.”

This story might be missing the still bigger scoop: who is going around Frome taking pictures of cars almost touching and are they on a police register?

Spotter: Adam Hart

Posted: 8th, January 2017 | In: Key Posts, Reviews, Strange But True | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Who farted in Grimsby Magistrates’ Court?

“Woman breaking wind cuts through sombre silence of Grimsby courtroom” is our local news story of the week.

The Grimsby Telegraph doesn’t say whether Grimsby Magistrates’ Court is famed for its silence, only that during proceedings a woman sat in the public gallery let rip.


local news farted grimsby


Mark Naylor then adds:

One male observer, originally sitting unknowingly next to the culprit on the front row of the public gallery.. hastily moved back a row to provide a bit more distance in the event of a second unexpected event.

He also took cover outside the courtroom door later on during proceedings in a wise pre-emptive bid to avoid being in the firing line in the event of an ear-splitting encore.

He later suffered the indignity of being blamed by others for being the one responsible for the noise in the first place.

Where this man is known to your reporter is unknown, but reputations for chivalry have been built on less.

Posted: 3rd, September 2016 | In: Key Posts, Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Somerset police seek man who urinated in River

The search goes on for who urinated into the River Cale at Wincanton, Somerset. PCSO Janet Sparkes addressed a meeting of Wincanton Town Council: “Members of public have made us aware of adult drinkers in the skate park. “Also a male was seen urinating in the river. Regular patrols are being carried out by officers in order to establish the identity of the offenders.”

Says one fish: “Ever since the council shut the toilets, we’ve nowhere else to go.”


Posted: 26th, August 2016 | In: Reviews, Strange But True | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Man finds ‘something from the Bible’ in his Costo salad

costco locust“We put the bag in the fridge straight away and had our first serving on Saturday night,” says Ian Lovejoy to the Henley Standard.

“It’s horrible to think about that now because it pooed everywhere and we were left wondering what we’d eaten. We decided to have the rest on Sunday but when I dropped the leaves on my plate I just saw this thing in my hand. I thought, ‘what on earth is this?’.

“It frightened me to death and my wife was extremely upset. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.

“I could probably have coped if it was something small, like an ant, but this was more like something from the Bible. I can’t believe it was still alive after all that time in the bag, first on the shelf and then in our fridge.

“It’s worrying because the bag says the salad’s ready washed but they obviously haven’t cleaned it that well. When the shock had passed we just had some cheese sandwiches… I’d like to think the locust might go to an insect expert who can find a use for it.”

That salad sounds revolting – even a locust won’t eat the stuff.


Posted: 8th, June 2016 | In: Reviews, Strange But True, The Consumer | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Johnny Depp silences bathtub rumours

depp norwich bathtub news


Johnny Depp says  – yes! – he did buy a £5,000 bathtub from Stiffkey Bathrooms, in Upper St Giles Street, Norwich, in 2014. Depp took the 1880 French Bateau bath on ornate feet to the USA.

Does he still have it? “We disposed of the thing and everything’s fine,” says Mr Depp. “The thing” and it being now “fine” arouse suspicion that the bath might well have been a problem.

Depp  denied rumours that he was spotted buying spatulas in Bath, Somerset.

The plot thickens…

Posted: 30th, May 2016 | In: Celebrities, Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Former BBC Radio DJ in social media horror

Simon Bates local news


Local News of the Day deals with a social media nasty. The Mid Devon Gazette tells us:

Twitter profile slates BBC Radio Devon presenter and Butterleigh resident Simon Bates


A TWITTER account calling for BBC Radio Devon’s Simon Bates to stay on holiday for good has been set up by a passionate listener. The campaign started Tweeting on Monday, March 21 and has so far attracted 11 followers…

Eleven people read the “quite scathing” tweets of the sort you can see above. What proportion of Bates’ listeners that constitutes, we ‘re not told – but let’s assume it’s all of them. After all, it’s in the papers…


Posted: 30th, March 2016 | In: Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Local news: York thug bites ‘teen’s fingernail’

York fingernail bandit


It’s all kicking off in York…

Sadly, the story is not funny:

The victim was one of five 18-year-olds walking along Holgate Road in York, towards a birthday party when Callum Brown, 20, started shouting abuse at one of the girls from the other side of the road and followed them, said Andrew Semple, prosecuting.

Despite her boyfriend telling him to stop it and the entire group going down a side street to try and avoid him, Brown injured the girl he was insulting and attacked her boyfriend. The Recorder of York, Judge Paul Batty QC told Brown: “You quite viciously and deliberately bit two of his fingers. You clamped your teeth around them, causing deep cuts to the tips of his fingers and in consequence of that he suffered extreme pain and lost one of his nails as well.

Spotter: Brendan O’Neill

Posted: 24th, February 2016 | In: Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

David Bowie: the most ludicrous tribute of them all

This might be the most trite David Bowie tribute of the lot. In New Zealand one local paper asks ‘whose shirt are you wearing?’ ‪#‎davidbowie‬


bowie tribute


Next week: which tin can is your favourite?

Posted: 14th, January 2016 | In: Celebrities, Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Local News: A car door is left open in Bath

Local News Watch: The door is open in the Bath Chronicle:


Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 07.00.04



A car has been causing quite a stir in Bath city centre. The vehicle, a silver Honda, had been left parked in Kingsmead Square, early on Sunday evening but unfortunately the owner had failed to shut the driver’s door… The car was parked in Kingsmead Square next to The Stable between 6pm and 7.30pm and at one point attracted the attention of a parking warden.

Next week in door news: the Frome Street Light Mystery.


Posted: 14th, October 2015 | In: Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Regret the error: actor Mark Benton meets ‘honey’ the human dog in St Leonards hospice

The Hastings and St. Leonards Observer


The Hastings and St. Leonards Observer hails Mark Benton’s role as ambassador for St Michael’s Hospice in St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex.

Honey the dog is away.

Posted: 23rd, August 2015 | In: Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Devon graffiti watch: who wrote ‘Gingers smel of piss’? on the B3227?

devon graffiti


Is all graffiti wrong? The Plymouth Herald says “RUDE graffiti” has been scrawled on a Devon road.


The message went:

‘Gingers smel of piss”


The misspelled statement was daubed on the B3227 between the village of Chittlehampton and Holsworthy.

Who did it? And why didn’t they alter the sign to Chittlehampton to say Shittlehampton?

It’s a mystery.

Posted: 21st, August 2015 | In: Reviews, Strange But True | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Local News watch: Plymouth Herald delivers compassionate killing with a free sausage rolls

Big news in the Plymouth Herald:

Screen shot 2015-01-29 at 13.49.26

As @drbramwell notes:

Nothing like a tragic local news story to make you peckish. Check the small print.

Hey, ma, you know how you love sausage rolls, well, try this…

Posted: 29th, January 2015 | In: Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Local News Watch: Bolton hunts tiny hedge bandits

Local News watch spots goings on in Bolton. The Bolton News reports:

A COUNCILLOR has hit out after thieves stole trees from decorative flower pots in Bromley Cross. Around 20 conifers, standing no more than a foot tall, have gone missing from pots put around the village to the dismay of the volunteers who planted them.

Call special branch:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 8th, January 2015 | In: Strange But True | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Dover Man In ‘Smarties Hell’

It’s all kicking off in Dover:
hell dover
The story is a little less amusing than the sign: 120 packets of Smarties are missing:
A churchwarden is fuming after his car was stolen along with 120 packets of Smarties intended to help raise money for terminally ill children. The blue Vauxhall Zafira was stolen from Chris Tyler’s driveway in Dover in the early hours of the morning last Thursday. It was later found nearby.
Round up the usual suspects…

Posted: 1st, December 2014 | In: Strange But True | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

FAIL: Countesthorpe College Typo Could Be Worse

YOU get a great education at Countesthorpe College, South Leicestershire – not to be confused with Countesthorpe Colege, which is dire:

If Countesthorpe College were going to miss out a letter it could have been worse


Screen shot 2014-10-24 at 21.58.43



Spotter: @TheMediaTweets

Posted: 24th, October 2014 | In: Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Bedfordshire Dad Scared Of Ebola Sends Daughter To School In Goggles And Mask

dad ebola


OTHER parents presents Jon O’Brien, of Turvey, Bedfordshire, who is “insisting” his 13-year-old daughter wears a face mask to Sharnbrook Upper School.

Ha-ha. Dad insists teenage daughter does what he says when in school. Dad is living in a dream world.

But Jon’s world is the stuff of nightmares:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 20th, October 2014 | In: Reviews | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Local News Watch: The Torquay Herald Express Clarifies Sir Roger Moore’s Scotch Egg Shun Scoop

STOP Press: Sir Roger Moore clarifies and corrects an earlier Torquay Herald Express exclusive. The former Mr James Bond did not eat  Scotch Egg on the Devon costa:



Screen shot 2014-09-28 at 19.31.15


He shunned the Scotch Egg…

Spotter: @TheMediaTweets


Posted: 28th, September 2014 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts | Comments (2) | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Local News Watch: The Peterborough Telegraph Reviews Pizza Express



LOCAL News Watch looks at a restaurant review in the Peterborough Telegraph:

Pizza Express has been based in Cathedral Square for a fair few years and though I’ve walked past it close to a hundred times, I’ve never ventured in – until now.

Holly Aston, 17, is at dinner with her mum. She embarks on a review that is devoid of the self-aggrandizing balls the the usual food critics churn out.

Highlights are

For the starter we ordered garlic bread with mozzarella and we were delighted when it arrived. It was one round piece of bread covered in cheese.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 19th, September 2014 | In: The Consumer | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0