This is where I will be sharing some of what I’ve discovered about the roots of religious and political radicalism in the seventeenth century in the Ribble Valley area. Of course the “Ribble Valley” has only existed since 1974 as a local government area: the places which I will be looking at were on the borders of the old counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire. Perhaps because this was a wild and inaccessible place to reach, a borderland of secular and ecclesiastical powers, it was a rich melting pot for radical and subversive beliefs.
The names of some of the figures I will be writing about are well-known, like George Fox, founder of Quakerism: some like, John Webster of Clitheroe, deserve to be better known and some, such as Roger Brereley founder of Grindletonianism need to be rescued from almost complete obscurity.
And why are these names not better known? In part, I believe, because of an entirely natural fascination with the tragic story of the Pendle Witches. Their stories have formed the basis of the local tourism industry for a number of years and covered up the colourful history of their times
Through this blog and other publications I hope that others will come to share with me a fascination with this rich and turbulent period of English history and perhaps to find that the questions these radical thinkers raised and tried to answer are still relevant for us today.