Friday, 18 July 2008


It's always amazing the way a theme emerges from almost every Shedman project. For some reason the theme of Shedman's sojourn in Ledbury has been 'river'.

It started with David Whyte, described in the Festival programme as a ‘modern day shaman’. It continued with Gary, the forensic anthropologist and gathered pace with Margaret, the Festival Treasurer and bio-dynamic farmer. It flowed from Alison, the music teacher from Newbury and meandered through conversations with the poet Angela France. It found its path of least resistance, not surprisingly, in Tom Hogkinson of The Idler.

Picture courtesy of Ledbury Portal

Picture Matthew Bailey

Perhaps the river theme is no surprise given the fact that seven miles to the south, beyond Dymock, the River Severn flows towards the sea?

'The River Severn (Welsh: Afon Hafren, Latin: Sabrina) is the longest river in Great Britain, at 220 miles (354 km).[3] It rises at an altitude of 2,001 feet (610 m) on Plynlimon near Llanidloes, Powys, in the Cambrian Mountains of mid Wales. It then flows through Shropshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, with the county towns of Shrewsbury, Worcester, and Gloucester on its banks. The Severn is England's greatest river in terms of water flow, and is considered one of the ten major rivers of the United Kingdom.'

Or that Herefordshire is the county of five rivers? Or because in 2007 Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire had seen the worst flooding for years?

By 19 June, Herefordshire was affected by flooding. The M50 motorway near Ledbury was closed on 22 July due to flooding.

Floods returned in December
Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd said it was donating a quarter of a million 500ml bottles of its Malvern Water to Tewkesbury Council for distribution to the local community. Central Trains services between Worcester and Hereford are not running due to flooding at Ledbury in Herefordshire.
Sky News Archive

Or because St Swithin's Day falls on July 15th?

Saint Swithun or Swithin (died 2 July 862) was an early English Bishop of Winchester, now best known for the popular British weather lore proverb that if it rains on Saint Swithun's day, 15 July, it will rain for 40 days and 40 nights.

St Swithun's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithun's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain na mair

Swithun was buried out of doors, rather than in his cathedral, apparently at his own request, so that the "sweet rain of heaven" could fall on his grave. In 971 it was decided to move his body to a new indoor shrine, and it is said that the ceremony was delayed by 40 days of torrential rain, a sign of Swithun's displeasure at the move.'

Whatever the reason for the river theme's appearance, its course through Shedman's time in Ledbury,
like all the best rivers, took surprising and fascinating turns, as it wove a special magic through an extraordinary week.

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