I’ve known Edna MacLoy for several years now and it is great pleasure to introduce her to you all today. I’m certain you will enjoy the post as much as I have. – A
The Orange Way
William III and the Glorious Revolution of 1688/1689
William of Orange, stadtholder of the Republic of the Seven United Provinces, landed in Brixham (Devon) on November 15, 1688. That is, according to the new style calendar (Gregorian). Some historians, often English and American, use November 5, Guy Fawkes Day. When I started working on this project, I based the story on the journal of Constantijn Huygens, William’s secretary and bystander. As a European, he adopted the new style in his journal and so do I.
Due to the poor condition of the roads and the dreadful weather but mostly according to plan, William and his impressive army took almost six weeks to march from Brixham to Saint James Palace in London. It is exactly these weeks, preceding the so called Glorious Revolution, that inspire my photography and writing. However, it started with William himself, about a decade ago.
William is a mysterious character, a visionary of some sort. Even though his so-called freedom was meant only for the highborn elite, his kingship marked the beginning of the resistance against French international hegemony. After his death, the English carried on William’s ideas under a different name: the balance of power, but the essentials remained the same, even up to this day.
As a visual person and as an anglophile, I love traveling in the footsteps of my muse. By capturing the landmarks between Brixham and London, I try to illustrate and visualize the march and imagine how it might have been. Through the lens, I hope to conceive an alternative, somehow contemporary view of the traces William and his regiments left behind. History often presents itself in mysterious ways. With my writing, I investigate the crucial developments en route and scrutinize the most important characters for there are countless interesting personalities involved in this sensational Anglo-Dutch history.
The Orange Way
The route William took is known as the Orange Way and its exact course was first recorded by Les Ham as a walk in a book by that title (Meridian Books, 2003). Though I never walked the whole route, I know someone who did a prime job in recording the Orange Way so that it has now become rather straightforward to walk it, especially, when it will have been further developed into an app. Pictures and maps can be found on my website:
Coming from abroad and usually having no more than a week’s time, I have traveled by car, with a camera and plenty of luxury. This makes the Orange Way as I see it, attainable for all ages. Walking, or partly footing it, always remains an attractive option or addition.
On his march to London, William stopped at churches and was a guest in mansions and houses of gentry who backed him. As support for his cause increased along the way, it was King James II, William’s uncle and father-in-law, who observed how more disloyal officers joined Orange. Eventually James departed to France and what followed was the coronation of William and Mary in April 1689, the only dual monarchy England ever had. The Glorious Revolution that followed, paved the way for the American Revolution and capitalism.
A republican king
This statement often results in discussions among fellow historians and professionals but in the end, both admirers and critics of William agree that he may well have been the hardest working monarch that England ever had. I always think of William as a republican king, a European avant-la-lettre.
In the past decade I flew to London several times, hired a car, drove west and worked my way back eastwards, visiting the manors, country houses and inns where William and his collaborators stayed. There have been a few cases in which it is not clear where William and his entourage stayed. This is, as I mentioned above, because I make use of Huygens’ journal. Like Les Ham, the secretary left a few gaps. It took time to investigate but by now I have visited each one of them; unfortunately I have not always been able to see the inside of all the mansions and houses. This has to do with the fact that I prefer to travel in November, just as William did. Most mansions and castles are closed in winter or they are in use because of a wedding.
However, last November Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke of Northumberland, was kind enough to open the doors of Syon House. The knowledge that William ate dinner here of course added to the experience. Observed from Kew gardens, Syon House is not even that spectacular to look at but the interior of this sixteenth century mansion took my breath away. In the end, I have come to the conclusion that the Orange Way has never disappointed me and my camera, and I suspect, it never will!
The book I am finishing covers the roughly 210 miles (340 kilometers) that Les Ham described in his book. There are, however, far more historical insights and circumstances and I include ample creative diversions, mostly photography, drawings, personal experiences and useful tips. Ultimately, my goal is to ride from Brixham to London on horseback with a few fellow enthusiasts. Dream?
If you want to know more about my slant on the Glorious Revolution, I suggest you visit www.orangeway.net. Here you will find a selection of photographs, links, information and updates. I love hearing from other enthusiasts so please feel free to contact me.