Martyn Barber, who works at Historic England and co-authored HE’s recent The Stonehenge Landscape, tells me he’s researching John Soul. Soul featured in my previous post as the man who linked free access at Stonehenge in the last century to a photo of a Victorian event there (at 3pm on a September 18, but in other respects not unlike a summer solstice gathering). Soul, it seems, had quite an active relationship with the site’s official guardians.
“Did you know”, writes Barber, “he used to cycle up to Stonehenge, buy a batch of guidebooks at sixpence each, and then re-sell them at his shop in Amesbury for a shilling. I suspect this was done partly to annoy the Office of Works etc, which he was very good at.”
Among correspondence in the Office of Works archives at Kew, Barber found this comment from George Engleheart, Wiltshire secretary to the Society of Antiquaries, in a letter to Charles Peers, Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments (Engleheart was himself a man not to shy away from stirring things up):
“…in bygone and sensible times we should have had [Soul] assassinated, but I can’t undertake the job in the face of miserable modern prejudice” (January 25 1921, TNA WORK 14/487).
Soul sounds like someone to have got on well with Arthur Pendragon. Has the latter ever thought of setting up shop in Amesbury?
Photo at top is from Jim Fuller