A book about a former Rutlander who founded a religious movement has been written and illustrated by schoolchildren in association with a local author.
Ryhall Primary School Year 5 and Year 6 pupils and their teachers teamed up with John Haden of Oakham to produce Robert ‘Troublechurch’ Browne of Tolethorpe and The Separatist Movement.
This is the tenth book in the American Roots in English Soil (Aries) series written with schools by Mr Haden, a former lecturer and headteacher of King Edward VI School in Louth.
They have been published by Barny Books. The Aries Project was designed by John to help schools in Eastern England explore their links with early American history and to celebrate their local heritage.
Ryhall Primary School acting headteacher Ian Toon said it was a fantastic opportunity for the children to be involved in.
The school was approached by Mr Haden and Mr Toon said they were delighted to get involved.
Mr Toon said: “It helped the children to be able to understand more of their local area, give them a bit of historical knowledge but also to raise the profile of their writing. Seeing it go into print was very exciting for them.
“As well as being involved in writing and illustrating the book itself, they have also written letters to the printers so it has been a business enterprise.”
The book was launched in school on Wednesday and Mr Toon said the children were rightly proud to show it off to staff, parents and their fellow pupils.
It will also have a public launch at All Saints’ Church in Stamford on Thursday, December 5, at 7.30pm.
The team of about 50 pupils worked with Mr Haden to research the Brownes of Stamford and Rutland’s religious rebel, a young man from Tolethorpe who founded a movement that was prominent through the reigns of Elizabeth I, James 1 and Charles 1 and whose most famous members were The Pilgrim Fathers.
Mr Haden said: “Browne can truthfully be called the father of religious freedom in America.
“We don’t think that there is another account of Browne’s life and work in print and our account has received positive comments from the Rutland Local History Society, the Stamford Civic Society, the Stamford Local History Society and Professor Alan Rogers.”
He stresses that the book is for adults, which children have helped to write and illustrate, rather than a book for children. The target audience is visitors to Stamford and to All Saints’ Church, Browne’s Hospital and Tolethorpe Hall in particular.
“We hope that it retains a level of historical accuracy without claiming to be a piece of scholarship! The Ryhall pupils have worked hard to try to understand the Robert Browne story, although their interests are more with sheep, fishing and relationships rather than the complexities of Reformation theology,” said John.
The Dean of Stamford, the Very Rev Mark Warrick, will host the launch in All Saints’ Church and the Mayor of Stamford, Coun Brian Sumner, will be guest of honour.
It is also hoped that a representative of the US Embassy will also attend. A talk will be given on Browne’s many local connections - with All Saints’ spire, Stamford School’s motto ‘me spede’, River Gwash fishing, Lord Burghley, men hanged for selling books and Stamford Shakespeare Company.
The book is available from online retailers for £5.99 and will be stocked at Walkers in Stamford from December 7.
Copies will be on sale for just £5 at the launch event on December 5.