Author sheds new light on the Battle of North Walsham in 1381

PUBLISHED: 14:08 15 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:08 15 August 2018

Margaret Callow's book Of Wheat or War. Pictures: Margaret Callow

Margaret Callow's book Of Wheat or War. Pictures: Margaret Callow


A retired nurse from Norfolk has highlighted the county's role in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 in an historical novel.

Margaret Callow has written her third book. Pictures: Margaret CallowMargaret Callow has written her third book. Pictures: Margaret Callow

Margaret Callow drew on historical accounts from the time to write her third book, Of Wheat or War: The Battle of North Walsham.

It has already reached number one in Amazon’s social history and English history charts.

The 76-year-old, from Lammas, near Aylsham, said: “It seems few Norfolk people know about the part local men played in The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381.

“They were finally chased back to North Walsham by Henry le Despenser, Bishop of Norwich and slaughtered on the heath.

“These were ordinary people doing extraordinary things in a bid to improve conditions for the many poor peasants who were yoked to the wealthy and treated badly, whilst the country’s coffers were almost empty.

“History never changes, it simply repeats itself.”

The Peasants’ Revolt was triggered by high taxes on the poor in the wake of the Black Death.

It culminated in leader Wat Tyler marching rebels from Canterbury to London to oppose the poll tax and demand economic and social reforms.

The ill-fated uprising was finally quashed after Tyler was killed by officers loyal to King Richard II.

Mrs Callow’s inspiration for the book came from researching her own family tree.

She said: “I found out that my great-great-grandmother was a pauper inmate in a workhouse in Shropshire. The poor would have just been lobbed into graves at that time. It got me thinking about all the ordinary people throughout history whose names were never known or forgotten.

“We go to North Walsham shopping and there’s a stump cross near the water tower, and three commemorative crosses to the Peasants’ Revolt there, which I did not know.

“There are probably a lot of bodies buried in the woods coming in to North Walsham from the fight with the Bishop in 1381.”

As well as sales success, the author, who was a nurse for 49 years, hopes her gripping take on the revolt will act as a reminder of the almost forgotten heroics of a few fellow Norfolk residents.

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