When Alan Vince, local resident, discovered through the 1903 copy of the Newbury Weekly News that his great great grandfather, Charles Midwinter of seed merchant fame, had been up before the magistrates, he was shocked. Investigation threw up a forgotten story about a mass protest against the implementation of a rate increase, following the 1902 Education Act.
The events surrounding this court case are explained in a new play being performed on 14th and 15th April at the Phoenix Centre on Newtown Road. ‘Passive Resistance’ begins with an auction in Hungerford where musical instruments were sold in the street.
Although Alan Vince is not in the cast another great great grandson is. Dave Seward, CEO Berkshire Youth, is playing his great great grandfather Samuel Seward. Samuel ran a bakery and confectionery business next to the Catherine Wheel pub and he also refused to pay his rates on conscientious grounds
Of the 19 characters in the play nine were buried in Newtown Road Cemetery so Cemetery Friends are yet again following their remit to bring the cemetery back to life. One of the magistrates is John Rankin who was friendly with several of the miscreants.
Nowadays it is really difficult to understand how a religious issue could be so divisive in this country, but it still happens elsewhere. Look at Betsy DeVos, Education Secretary in the US, appointed by Donald Trump and well known for her religious agenda.
Tickets for both matinees including refreshments are available through the Corn Exchange, the Saturday evening performance includes a glass of wine and will be finished before 9.00pm so there’s still time for the pub!