'King of the Hippies'
An Alternative Social
History of Britain
1960 - 2000
with Jeremy Sandford
The Vision of Albion
as told to Jeremy Sandford
The Poignant and Controversial Story of Sid Rawle
'King of the Hippies'
The Right to Roam
Thirty Five Years as a
New Age Nomad
'King of the Hippies'
An Alternative Social History
1960 - 1995
Introduction: ('Like him or loathe him') by Jeremy Sandford.
Prologue: by Sid Rawle.
Land must be made available for everyone. The countryside must cease to be just an enclave of the rich. It is to this vision that he has dedicated his life.
1. Life on John Lennon's Island
John Lennon and Yoko Ono give Sid an island off the West coast of Ireland. He sets about colonising it and scores of people come to live there. A disastrous storm. Fire sweeps through the little colony. With regret Sid returns to England.
2. Childhood on Exmoor; Flashback
A lonely dreamer. Neighbouring self-sufficient smallholdings demonstrate to Sid one way he could go. (The vision of Albion).
3. Dropping out, on the beach at St Ives
Sid as a beatnik. Harassment by the local population.
4. The Slough Municipal Gardens Love-In
Sid attempts to live in the city. Organises an Asian factory strike. Takes part in the occupation of 144 Picadilly. Organises a 'love-in' in Slough municipal gardens.
5. The Village Squat
Return to the country. Sid and his band take over a deserted village in Wales. They are evicted.
6. The First Days of Festival
Sid returns to discover that festivals for hundreds are being held in Windsor Great Park and for thousands at Glastonbury. Sid creates a free food kitchen for thousands. Madness and death of one of the organisers. Why more land must be made available for the people and especially for festival.
7. Rainbow Ecological Village
Setting up the Rainbow ecological village at Molesworth, built on land leased to the American Air Force. At length the peaceful community is surrounded and broken up by the army.
8. The American Indian Tipi
Sid feels he needs a rest. A friend has just brought over the first American Indian tipi to be seen in Britain. He gives one to Sid. Observations on tipi life. Sid gets involved in the setting up of Tipi Valley. Hundreds join him.
9. The Peace Convoy
Creation of the Peace Convoy. Perhaps the high point of Sid's power as a leader. New Age Travellers. Why do people go on the road? The Vision of Albion.
10. Eviction from Nostell Priory. Annals of the Peace Convoy
The Convoy arrives at Stonehenge festival. Thousands of people celebrate. Negotiations with police and officialdom. Stonehenge as temple. Other skirmishes.
11. Decline and Fall of Stonehenge
But Stonehenge is changing. Darker elements. Drug dealers. Sid sets up a 'police force', attempting to curb the power of the evil dealers. He performs weddings, christenings, a funeral. Sid becomes victim of an intended murder from which he is rescued just in time.
12. The Trashing in the Bean Field
The state versus the convoy; as the convoy once again approaches Stonehenge to celebrate another festival. The trashing in the bean field and its aftermath. Sid leaves the Convoy.
13. Rainbow Circle
A period with the Green Party ends with Sid joining the Oak Dragon Camps, in an attempt to set up a 'Living University on the Green Earth'. Sid is inspired to break away to set up the Rainbow Circle Wholistic University Camps, where study takes place amid meadows and trees, in a series of marquees, domes and benders. Scenes at Rainbow Circle Camps. The happy outcome of Sid's vision. Sid's passionate belief in the importance of celebration leads him to set up the Forest Fayre for thousands in the Forest of Dean. Despite immense obstacles placed in the way of the two Fayres so far, the future of the Fayre now seems secure.
Epilogue: Land Rights and Rites.
Squatting for the masses. The vision of Albion.
Like him or loathe him, it's hard to ignore Sid Rawle.
He is that rare thing, a middle aged hippy who is still a hippy. He was in at the start and still trucking. He has never gone 'straight'. His story is hilarious, sometimes angry, sometimes tragic, always remarkably filled with action.
He is the squatter to end them all, having squatted flats, houses, commons, forests, a village, boats, an island, an army camp, Windsor Great Park.
Property owners have urgently attempted to put locks on their houses, land, and daughters, when Sid has been around. It is Sid's claim, that each of our young men and women who could be ordered to die for their country in time of war have a right to, at any rate, a few square yards of meadow or mountain, is hard to refute.
Sid believes that access to the land for the underprivileged is becoming harder, and that many obstacles are placed in the way of festival and conviviality. He has fought hard for these things. He has involved hundreds, sometimes thousands, with him.
Through his personal bravery, crowd gathering propensities, and frequent appearances on the media, he has become something of a folk hero.
Surrounded by beautiful women and grubby children, he has lived much of his life in a tipi, and more recently in a converted G.P.O. van.
Both riot police and the army have been brought in to break up some of the operations in which he has played an important part, and it is possible that some of the campaigns described in this book will go down to history in the way that those of the 17th century Diggers have.
His story is idyllic, poignant, angry, and hilarious. It is also history in the making, dealing with events for which there have been few written records.
The Vision of Albion
by Sid Rawle
In the end it all gets back to land. Looking back, I see that a link that runs through my life concerns the right to land and property on it.
Shared out equally, there would be a couple of acres for every adult living in Britain. That would mean each family or group could have a reasonably sized small holding of ten or twenty acres and learn once again to become self sufficient.
The present day reality is the reverse, with some folk owning hundreds of thousands of acres and others owning none. That can't be fair!
There's talk of community in war time. We can be ordered to go and fight and die for Queen and country. In peace time is it too much to ask for just a few square yards of our green and pleasant land to rear our children on?
Sid Rawle; Some Further Notes
That's all we want, myself and the squatters and travellers and hippy movements I've been involved with. Just a few square yards of this land that we can quite easily be asked to go out and die for.
And if we ever achieve that, what else? What else is what I call the Vision of Albion.
Albion, the most ancient name of this fair country. It was in Albion that the industrial revolution occurred. And I and many others now have a sneaking suspicion that in Albion will be forged the first post industrial society, a Green Community in this green land, living in equity and peace.
The Vision of Albion is a vision of one world united in love, a vision of unity in diversity. Not the same chant every day. Not everyone finding the same cure for the same ills. But a vision of all people uniting in love and respect for one another.
We have to find out how all us individuals in the world can have enough space to live in love and harmony, enough to be selfsufficient and be ourselves, and how to give everyone else this space. That is the vision of Albion, that is the vision of the Rainbow people.
It is the Rainbow vision because the rainbow is the symbol of God's promise. And it is the vision of Albion because there is a sneaking feeling amongst some of us that it is from these islands, the islands that make up Albion, that change will come. So many of the white man's dreadful fuckups in the world originated here. It is from these islands that peace and harmony must come.
Because although we've given the world so many of its institutions and a common language to communicate to each other in, we've lost our own real ancient roots. We don't know who built our stone circles, how they did it, how they loved, what their economic system was, what their religion was, all this we're ignorant of.
All over the world there are other peoples who do remember what their roots are, people who are still in touch with their tribal history. What lies deep in their systems must also lie deep within our system. We have to learn to find it again.
We have to reclaim or rediscover some of their ancient wisdom, the wisdom of ancient Albion.
There's no magic in this, no mystery, however. The mystery is that we keep ourselves in hell when we could be in heaven. That's the mystery.
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