Outreach Groups Update

With just over four weeks to go till Paisley is transported back in time to 1697, the community is rallying round to make sure we get hundreds of people involved in the festivities on the 5 October. We have over 170 participants from community groups all over Renfrewshire who have been working out street scenes for the day under the fantastic leadership and guidance of our Creative Outreach Leader for the project, John Adam.

Community Group

A group performing a street scene for our 2012 festival

The groups are now in the process of developing the characters they have created and constructing the unique, individual street scenes that they will go on to perform on the day. Some of these groups include Renfrewshire Carers, Turning Point Scotland, Razzamataz Theatre School, Baragrran Youth Club and lots more, all of whom will be dressed up and performing their distinctive pieces on the 5th.

There are still loads of ways to get involved in the outreach work whether that’s a community group looking to perform on the day, volunteer outreach workers who would like to work with us to gain experience and add to their CV and even set and prop building opportunities. If any of these are areas that interest you then get in touch or alternatively pop into the shop to get a better idea of what the project is all about. We’re looking forward to seeing you soon!

Louisa Taylor
Studios Creative Manager

Research Update

Research Update.

Over the past 6 months research has been limited to looking at the genealogy of Christian Shaw, and this will take a Christian Shaw Grave Edinburgh - Research Updatelot longer to uncover.  What we can say is that Christian certainly had 4 siblings: Elizabeth, John, James and Jean.  As work progresses more information will he published.

At our conference in June 2012, we also announced the recent finding that we had discovered the death and burial of Christian Shaw on the 8th September 1737 in Provost Tods Tomb in Greyfriars Kirk Yard in Edinburgh.

Tracking Christian down in this period is hard, as after her marriage to the Rev Millar in 1719, she is known as both Christian Shaw and Mrs Millar and also as Mrs Livingstone after her second marriage in 1737.

One question that has come up is why did Christian move from Johnstone, where the Bargarran Thread Company was doing well, to Edinburgh?  Well this year we can now tell you why.

Christian’s introduction of fine linen thread manufacturing to Renfrewshire sparked a county wide industry by the early 18th Century.   Christian’s business head must have brought her to the attention of many of the senior people in the Linen Industry to the extent that when the Board of Manufacturers and Fisheries was established in 1727, Christians name soon appears in their minute book.

On the 6th October 1727 a Mrs Millar appears to be present at the Board of Trustees meeting where discussions take place on the condition of spinning in the country:

“Edinb. 6th October 1727,

Mr Donaldson & Mrs Millar were discoursed with upon spinning & the way to remedy the defects that it at present labours under here.  Who gave it as their opinion that both fine and good spinning want to be promoted if not introduced, which they believe might be done by the direction of some expert foreign spinners selling here or by some encouragement to those of this county who have made the greatest progress therein.”

On the 13th October plans submitted by Mr Donaldson and Mrs Millar were sent to the Linen Committee for discussion.  By the 3rd November Christian was back in Edinburgh at the Committee:

“Edinb. 3rd November 1727,

Recommended to Lord Monsieur, messrs McCauley, Drummond and Patterson to converse with Mrs Millar of Johnstoune now in town, and bring in her proposals for spinning and twisting thread.”

Between November and December the minutes of the Board of Trustees are concerned with the establishment of Spinning Schools.  On the 15th December 1727 they minute, that a School in Edinburgh has been approved the magistrates of the Edinburgh.  The next mention of the school comes in April 1728:

“Edinb. 12th April 1728,

… As was also a precept on the cashiers for paying over to Mrs Millar, Mistress of the Spinning School erected by the plan at Edinburgh Fifty pounds sterling as her salarie from the first of April last to the first of April next 1729.”

From this entry it is obvious that Christian has been appointed to the main Spinning School.  The board must have considered her a very intelligent woman to receive such a handsome salary. The Mistress of the Galsgow Spinning School founded at a similar time only received a salary of £30!

The entry of April 1729 all but confirms the Mrs Millar we have been looking at is indeed Christian.

“Edinb. 18th April 1729,

A precept on the cashiers for paying over out of the monies appropriated to the Linen & Hemp Manufacturers for the year 1729 to Christian Shaw relict of Mr John Millar minister of the Gospel, Fiftie pounds sterling in full of her salary payable per advance for the year from the first of April 1729 to the first of April 1730 as mistress of the Spinning School erected in Edinburgh.”

As yet we have still to look at the records past 1730, but we are gradually beginning to understand Christian Shaw’s part in the growth of the Linen and Thread industry not only in Renfrewshire, but in Scotland as a whole.

Christian’s appointment to the Spinning School certainly explains the move from Johnstone to Edinburgh, and it also explains how she met and eventually married William Livingstone in Edinburgh in 1737.

Stephen Clancy,


Horse and Cart – Event Update

This week Ian (Event Operations Manager) was away at Pollock Country Park to meet with Lorraine Clark to see the horse and cart, who is the head carter at the park. Lorraine had met with Ian last week to walk the route of the procession and got a chance to see some of the work that we do in the Renfrewshire Witch Hunt shop including some of our 17th Century costume.

The horse and cart for the accused.

The cart proper name a dray (pictured right), will have the 7 accused in it as they are taken from the top of Paisley High Street down into County Square and ending in Abbey Close where the re-enactment will take place. The cart will be decorated as if it has just been tranported her straight from the 17th century and Lorraine and the other professional operators will be in full costume for their job at the time. They will be followed by the other characters from the re-enactment, including towns folk, militia, family and friends and also their accusers.

Last year the horses and cart took everyone’s breath away, its not a usual sight to see in the streets of Paisley. You really dont want to miss this!

There will be the opportunity to get your picture taken with the horses and cart prior the public procession at 3pm, that will be down in County Square.

You should go have a walk around Pollock Country Park and got have a look at the horses before the big day!

Re-enactment Update


Re-enactment actors in full costume, Abbey Close PaisleyThere have been lots of things to do in the preparation for the re-enactment . Finalising the storyline and the actual script have been essential tasks. Actors had to be recruited, auditioned, and casting effected.

Links needed to be further developed with community groups and partner organisations, as to involvement and direction and content of that involvement. Rehearsals had to be organised and a location for those rehearsals had to be found. Costumes had to be agreed re design and manufacture.
Orientation sessions were begun, to assist all actors with the process of thinking themselves into the late 17th Century Scotland and 1697 Paisley in particular.
The presentation of the Touring Exhibition to community organisations is now well under way, and the presentations to schools are now being finalised re dates and locations.
The technical aspects of the Project are also in course of being finalised, as it is important that this runs in parallel with the rehearsals, so that the two streams come logically together to ensure a smooth, interesting, entertaining and thought-provoking experience for all who witness what we do.
If you are interested in becoming an actor for the event, touring exhibitions for this year or next then please visit here for more information –  Jim Rutherford, ETC


Costumes Update

Photo of costume designer AnnHolidays are over and we are all raring to go. The shop has been re-arranged to make it more interesting. We are all looking forward to meeting and greeting old friends and new. Anyone can come in and be shown how to make a basic costume to wear on re-enactment day (5 October).

Come along and join us, you will have fun and meet lots of new friends. – Ann McConway, Costume Designer

Shop and Crafts Update

17th Century CostumeThe shop is now set up and ready to welcome in community groups for craft and costume workshops!

Each craft session is catered to fit the needs of the people attending, with a minimum of three different activities for people to choose from; Sewing, painting, jewellery making, paper collaging, button pictures and more. All items made can be taken away, or left to be completed during another time slot. Any items left will be put on display, available for members of the public to buy J

We offer three time slots- 45 minutes, 1 Hour or 90 Minutes.

Depending on the number of people attending, there will be a minimum of two workshop leaders who will make sure that every takes part-but most of all enjoys what they are doing.

To Book a time slot with us, please email admin@rwh1697.co.uk or phone the shop unit on 0141 3284310

Re-enactment Update

Nicky, Hope and Cheryl rehearsing at Reid Kerr


Six weeks to go and our actors are getting ready for the big performance.

Rehearsals are taking place twice a week- Thursday nights and Saturday Mornings in the Shop Unit.

Each week, different scenes are rehearsed, giving actors a chance to build up their confidence and talent!

This week, we rehearsed the infamous Milk Scene, in which the young maid Katherine Campbell cursed Christian Shaw when she was caught drinking a glass of milk. The gentry scene, in which the most well off and respected people of the town discussed the strange case of Christian Shaw’s fits. We were also able to rehearse the arrival of Christian and her parents to meet the well known and respected Dr Brisbane, leading eventually to the diagnoses of Bewitchment!!!

The actors are becoming more confident with every run through of the scenes, and with all day rehearsals planned in the coming weeks, real progress will be made, a final big push before the main event on the 5th of October.

The Costume designers are working hard to ensure that all of the actors are dressed in historically accurate period costume that enables them to get right into character.

We are working closely with the events management team from Fablevision, ensuring that as much of the day as possible is authentic to the festival day that would have taken place on the 10th of June 1697- the day of the real Witch Trials.

Props and sets are now being sourced, some more difficult than others. The most unusual of places are throwing up the most difficult props to find, a milk churn being found in a volunteer’s back garden! We are also trying to build as much of the sets as we can and have the chance to really showcase what life would have been like in 1697!

Outreach Update

RWH1697 Outreach Drama Meeting

We are extremely excited to welcome on board our newest member of the outreach team – John Adam! John is taking the on the dynamic role of Outreach Leader and so far he is doing a fantastic job of getting community groups involved in the RWH this year.

John has a background that is packed full of experience in the arts as a whole but drama is where his main passion lies. Getting lots of community groups on board and excited about being part of the project comes as second nature to John which means interest is high so if you are part of a community group or you know of one who is yet to get involved then now is the time!

There are groups from all over Renfrewshire donning 17th century attire and performing street scenes for the event including Capability Scotland from Johnstone, the Paisley branch of Momentum Scotland, Historical Adventures from Foxbar and many more so even if you are outside of Paisley there are loads of ways to get involved.

There are literally hundreds of dramatic street scene opportunities, musical performance opportunities and set/prop designing and building opportunities for community groups to engage with. The final event happens on October 5th when the whole of Paisley will be transported back to 1697 and will re live the tragic events of the Bargarran Witch Trials. There isn’t much time left before the main day so get in touch, we can’t wait to work with you!

Renfrewshire Witch Hunt 1697 In Its Second Year

Now in its second year, Renfrewshire Witch Hunt 1697 is becoming an established festival for Paisley as well as a Renfrewshire Witch Hunt 1697 major resource for schools, community and other groups/individuals wishing to learn about Renfrewshire’s unique history.

Learning from Salem in the USA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salem,_Massachusetts), the RWH1697 team are convinced of the usefulness of themed visitor attractions as a major economic regeneration tool. Our USP is that local people are researching, learning about and sharing the story with others themselves. Our approach therefore delivers social impact (involving people with disabilities, mental health issues and carers in meaningful projects is the new model of social work) and educational benefits too (see our schools section on the website for the curriculum for excellence ready learning resources for teachers and school pupils).

With growing partnerships in Museums, Schools, Social Work, Creative Renfrewshire Network, Education Services, Tourism and the BIDS group; with a drop in exhibition space and retail unit in the Paisley Centre (Unit 17) and in line with the current heritage assets strategy review being developed by Renfrewshire Council, RWH1697 is confident that we have a powerful tool which will be of benefit to the whole region if we can develop a robust partnership approach

RWH 1697 – Conference 2013

Picture of brass Tondo from Maxwellton Cross


Renfrewshire Witch Hunt 1697 2013 Conference

Building Paisley’s Heritage:   A Resource for Tourism and Regeneration?

9:30 am to 2:30 pm on Friday 4th October 2013 at the University of West of Scotland, Paisley Campus


Stephen Clancy, Renfrewshire History – Paisley’s Forgotten Heritage

Professor Hugh McLachlan, Glasgow Caledonian University – Using Heritage for Tourism and Regeneration

Ingrid Shearer, Northlight Heritage – A Case Study:  Govan Old Kirk

And a discussion on how we can take ideas forward

Tickets are £15 each and includes Lunch and Refreshments

Early Bird Offer:  Buy your ticket before 12 September for special price of £12

Tickets now available from our shop:  Unit 17 in the Paisley Centre, 23 High Street,  Paisley PA1 2AQ