Autumn Newsletter 2014

I hope your life this coming year is rich and full, interesting and fulfilling. Here’s what my life is about.

White HorseMy Two Minutes of Fame – BBC Countryfile 23 November

Don’t miss my appearance on Countryfile, standing on White Horse Hill, telling the Berkshire Folk Tale ‘King Gaarge and the Dragon’ to an audience of seven million. (Unless I finish up, alas and alack, on the cutting room floor.)


Berkshire Folk Tales & Lancashire Folk Tales
Perfect Christmas Gift

Berkshire Folk Tales & Lancashire Folk Tales are available on Kindle at £5.99, and can also be obtained in book form from the usual outlets, and if you buy from my website (click Berkshire or Lancashire) you receive signed copies. And I get the best return!

The good news, book sales seem to be going well via book stores and the Kindle versions. And I have personally sold well over 100 books.

Now the bad news. If you can hear the grinding of teeth, it’s because I have discovered that the books are only promoted within the present post-1974 county boundaries, not the historic counties.

Boggart by Jo Lowes

Boggart by Jo Lowes

This means Berkshire Folk Tales is not promoted in the old North West of Berkshire, which includes the Berkshire Downs and where many of these tales originate (The Raven of Earthly Terror, King Gaarge and the Dragon, White Horse Revels, Wayland’s Smithy, the meaning of King Alfred Burning the Cakes).

It’s even worse in old Lancashire, where many of the tales originate. The book is not promoted in Manchester (The Manchester Mummy, Lancashire Boggarts) Salford (The Skull House, The Giant of Worsley) Liverpool (The Liver Birds, The Rodney Street Gambler) Warrington (Tales of Bewsey Hall) or South Lancashire towns like Rochdale (The Baum Rabbit) Radcliffe (The Dread Tale of Fair Ellen) Bury (The Devil in the Fireplace, The Unsworth Dragon) Wigan (Mab’s Cross Tales).

Please, help by asking to purchase the book in bookshops in these towns and ordering them wherever you live from your  library. And of course, please buy Berkshire Folk Tales & Lancashire Folk Tales as presents for your friends and families. I have a great affection for these folk tales, they are an important part of our cultural heritage, and I want as many people as possible to enjoy them.

You can visit the Lancashire Folk Tales website at

 The Legend of Bewsey Hall Warrington and Mabel Cecilia Atwood

LEGEND OF BEWSEY Mabel AtwoodThe Lancashire Folk Tales ‘Legend of Bewsey Hall’ tells of the murder in 1463 of Sir John Boteler of Bewsey Hall by the son of Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby, who in 1485 at Bosworth Field had placed the English crown upon the head of the victorious Henry Tudor.

Having written the tale based on the Frank Hird and John Roby accounts, we realised that at the time of the murder Thomas Stanley’s son would have been an infant, and the real murderer was Thomas Stanley himself, twenty two years before Bosworth won him an Earldom. Moreover, we then discovered that Sir John Boteler’s widowed wife was in fact Thomas Stanley’s own sister.

So, the story was even murkier than Hird and Roby had recorded, and here was another tale demanding to be told. We traced the descendents of John and Margaret Boteler on a genealogy website, starting from the Sir John Boteler page, until we discovered this delightful photograph of Mabel Cecilia Atwood, 1879-1962, and we just had to include her in the book.

In about 1900, when we set the telling of the Tales of Bewsey Hall, Mabel Cecilia Atwood was a young woman of twenty one years living in Lancaster County, Nebraska. So, we brought her over to visit her ancestors and invited her to tell the murky tale in the chancel of St Elphin’s church Warrington, by the tomb of her forebears John and Margaret Boteler.

We want you to see Mabel’s delightful photograph, and as it wasn’t possible to include it in the book, here it is instead. We invite you to explore her genealogy for yourself. Let us know what you discover.

Soulfulness Shamanic Spiritual Group

I organise al Soulfuness Shamanic Group in Cookham now on a Sunday about monthly. For details, please click on Cookham dundon church yew borderedSoulfulness Group. The next Group is 18 January 1pm to about 5pm. If you are in the area, please, come.

I organise a regular Soulfuness Shamanic Group in Clapham. For details, please click on Clapham Soulfulness Group. The next group is Thursday 13 December 9.30am to 11am. Please phone Anna di Giovine on 02076 272737 if you would like to come.

Soulfulness offers a way of relaxing to a drumbeat and allowing the imagination to focus upon an issue which we wish to explore. It is based on an ancient technique practised by the shaman of old, called a ‘shamanic journey’.

At the Soulfulness Group we tell tales, read poems, chant and drum, make inner shamanic journeys, and share whatever we choose.


Talks and Storytelling

16891_0329 croppedTalks and Readings & After Dinner speaking is taking off.

I have received eight bookings to give my first talk, ‘History, Myth and Mystery in Berkshire Folk Tales’, from Local History Groups, the Vale & Downland Museum Wantage, and my first Rotary club.

My storytelling work this year has mainly been in primary schools. The children are always full of wonderfully imaginative ideas and spontaneous humour, a great joy. I told lots of stories at Oxford Dance Camp, and I did a two hour ‘Baudy and Ghoulish Tales’ gig at Wallingford Bunk Fest for a gloriously responsive audience. I have been booked for morning family storytelling at Cookham Festival 9 May 2015 and the same afternoon we have been booked for the Ed and Dave Show, Berkshire Folk Tales & Tunes, both at the Pizza Dreams Cafe.

Click Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to read my version of this fabulous seasonal tale.

Previous Newsletters

Spring Newsletter 2014

Winter Newsletter 2013