Monday, 6 September 2010

Paddington Farm and the Counterculture

Back in July I visited Paddington Farm in Glastonbury (http://www.paddingtonfarm.co.uk/) to check it out as a venue for my forthcoming weekend of breathwork - The Conscious Breath (www.chaotopia.co.uk/TCB.html).
My friend who helps run the charity events there told me about the farm's countercultural history, gleaned from records held at the farm and stories from those who'd stayed there. In 1985 the farm, then called Greenlands at Maidencroft Farm, was owned by an extraordinary old lady who opened some of her fields to festival travelers, ignoring the protests of her neighbours. (Apparently, the incident is still talked about in that area). My girlfriend Judy immediately suspected it was the farm she'd stayed at, in the orchard at the bottom of the lane, when she was on her way to Stonehenge Free Festival in 1985. She went to look at the orchard, and indeed it was.

Those of you who are countercultural history buffs will recognize 1985 as the year of the Battle of the Beanfield, the brutal attack by unnumbered, unidentified police on a field full of travelers' homes at the Stonehenge site. I left the Henge festival early that year, before Thatcher's uniformed thugs, possibly some of the same scum who occupied mining villages like invading troops during the coal strike, arrived, so I didn't witness the gratuitous attacks on children, pregnant women and anyone else they could find to terrorize.

Anyway, it turns out that those not arrested had moved on to Glastonbury and were given sanctuary by Greenlands' generous owner. Some more of the history emerged when I posted The Conscious Breath up as an Event on FaceBook (http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=150275014996498 - but would somebody please tell me what happened to all those posts, they seem to have been wiped?), when Alistair Livingstone (check out his blog at http://greengalloway.blogspot.com/) added some of his memories of those weeks of refuge.
If anyone else out there has any of that history, I'd be interested to hear it. If those who lived these events don't record them, they will be lost.

2 comments:

  1. It is a bit 1984ish isn't it? Or should that be 1985ish? Never mind, I will write up something about the place. A quick google search shows that Andy Worthington and Dice George have both mentioned Greenlands Farm (as it then was)in context of 1985. Alison Collyer was the owner then and just fund a google books link http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=QNHTOvnZ3poC&lpg=PA83&ots=VwhxbYBHGJ&dq=Greenlands%20Farm%20Alison%20Collyer&pg=PA83#v=onepage&q&f=false which mentions her and the farm.

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  2. Well, one gets old and maudlin about the Bad Old Days. Thanks for that link Alistair, looks like a wealth of stuff there.

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