Norman Smith’s Porch

Medieval Malmesbury

Medieval Malmesbury

Episode 10

May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof

Cromwell entered the Abbey, he came in the back door, he didn’t wait to be let in, he just came in, in the middle of the night. He took the keys to the TARDIS which had been parked in front of the Altar and evaporated into Times we know not when. We know it was he who did this because of our Close Circuit Greater Noctule Bats in the Watching Loft who saw everything and echoed back the information to Tilly Whim over in the Vicarage using the ’70 decibel link’ specially set up by Dwight for just such an occasion.

When dawn broke the Jackdaws were first to notice the damage to the Abbey’s roof, Cromwell was obviously a very inexperienced TARDIS pilot, I’m sure Eilmer could have shown him a thing or two, only he was over the river valley at Daniel’s Well digging strip lynchets. As it grew lighter and the townsfolk began to appear on the streets, many of them could be heard preaching doom and gloom. Something was not quite right, a dim yellow glow in the sky, in fact the whole town seemed to be already at dusk. Some said they saw a bloody Moon, others said they saw a deep red Sun struggling to come to full power.

The wind picked up, in the sulphurous cloud covered sky, and the pomegranate sun disappeared altogether leaving the town bathed in a weird and spooky yellow ochre light. And now it began to rain sand, and people were already taking shelter inside the Abbey itself, proclaiming the end of the World was upon them. There was much wailing and crying as rumours quickly spread around the white washed walls of the Great Abbey that Davros Thistlethwayte and Sir Edward Baynton were on there way over from Tetbury ‘to take the town’ with an army of Parliamentary Infantry.

Watching Loft © David Forward

Watching Loft © David Forward

Mike Lynch quickly shinned his way up into the Watching Loft, and began using the ‘Greater Noctule Bats’ and the emergency Cavity Magnetron ’80 decibel link’ to the South Port Gate, to sent an urgent message coded in Old English to Father Beebee, The B of The Bang who was now guarding entry into the town from St John’s Bridge. The message read:-

I share now with the surf one destiny
In rolling cycles when each month repeats.
As beauty in my brilliant form retreats,
So too the surges fade in cresting sea.

A preplanned Latin code regularly sung in Gregorian Chant by the Abbey Choir at Civil Defence Evenings each Tuesday and Thursday. Red Henry was despatched to the Abbey Roof to keep look out down the High Street for The B of The Bang and his hastily gathered Black Horse Gang from Burton Hill led by their infamous leader Michael ‘Two Bridges’ Langtree, the man who was responsible for the defence of Goose Bridge and St John’s Bridge.

The sight of Mike and Andrew storming up the High Street closely followed on their heals by The Black Horse Gang, drew gasps of admiration from the shopkeepers who were by now busily boarding up their shop fronts in anticipation of Armageddon. The traditional bag of flower was cast below from high upon the Abbey by Red Henry, its exploding impact on Jackie Tong’s head, was the signal for her to thump out the ‘friendlies approaching signal’ on the doors to Norman Smith’s Porch, which would then be opened by Pauline and Sue to let the Bang & Gang in.

By now the confused Stilicho, Aetius, Aspar, Ricimer and Gundobad were emerging from the Whole Hog after a long night, and every one else from near by hostelries, that were in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto them; and Stilicho became the Captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men. The serfs and peasants of Malmesbury now became one force combined with that of the Great Abbey, and now the townsfolk felt they were in with a chance if the Hungry Hordes from Tetbury should make it past ‘The Bar’ made of wood some 14 feet long with iron spikes in, and blocking any progress from Westport up Abbey Row.

And with the sky now Blacker than a ‘Malmesbury Common’ Adder, with its heavy sand laden clouds now rushing over at great speed, there came a blood curdling cry from Red Henry, clambering across the damaged roof of the Abbey, in order to get a better view of the East Gate, from where he could now see the knights on horseback of The Royal Norwegian Order of Saint Olav, riding furiously up Holloway, having been summoned at haste into the town from Nine Barrow Down by Mike Lynch using the ’90 decibel link.’ Red Henry cast down another bag of flower closely followed by four more, this was Jackie Tong’s cue to sprint to the Tolsey Gate, and slam the doors shut, behind our brave Norse warriors upon their now imminent arrival.

The Garrison in Malmesbury Castle, were now stirring after a heavy night of drinking in the appropriately named, Setting Sun Inn, having been summoned by Mike Lynch up in the Watching Loft, still fiddling with his Cavity Magnetron, now set to 100 decibels on the ‘Greater Noctule Bat’ scale. The soldiers took to the battlements, long bows at the ready and began singing songs so rude even Barbara the gardener was blushing.

Would Maidulph’s Malmesbury survive the Royalist onslaught of Davros ‘The Prickle’ Thistlethwayte and his cohort, Sir Edward ‘The Teddy Bear’ Baynton and their Mercian army of Glosteorites. Was this to be another ‘Stephen verses Matilda’ of 1141, with extra time for Red Henry to take the penalties? We’ll have to wait now for History to reveal its answers, as at this moment Cromwell crash lands the TARDIS right in the thick of the ensuing battle, half way up Abbey Row, right below the Castle walls, as it’s pummelled by cannon shot from the Tetbury Task Force now swarming into Westport, Charlie Boy leading the charge.


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“Any resemblance between the characters in this story and any persons, living or dead, is a miracle.”

17 October, 2017
All images and written works by David Forward are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License