P R O F I L E
Berkswell takes its name from Berculs-well. Bercul was a Anglian chieftain. Our modern perception of the word "well" is a deep hole bored in the ground, but this was not its original meaning. The word originally meant a strong bubbling spring, as in Berculs-well.
Details of the cannon are recorded by Dee Tracey in Berkswell Miscellany vol. 2 1986, published by the Local History Research Group. Apparently a Captain A Eardley-Wilmot CB R of the Royal Navy and commander of HMS Sphinx, captured the cannon from the Russians at Kertch on 5 May 1855. Eventually arriving at Berkswell probably late 1858, the event is recorded with a special dinner the following year. Hand-written invitations invited local people to the ceremony on 4th January, which included a firing of the cannon at 1pm.
There was a further firing of the cannon on 22 June 1897 for the celebration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. Transported to the top of the hill towards Coventry, the enthusiastic firing resulted in windows in the village being shattered, something it is claimed had not happened previously.
The above details are also recorded on a plaque on the cannon carriage. Other details on the cannon include MA on the boss and the Russian Eagle on the second reinforce.
The Bear and Ragged Staff Inn takes its name from the coat of arms of the Earls of Warwick, one time Lord of the Manor of Berkswell. During October the "Stattis" or Statutes Fair was held. This was a hiring fair at which local farmers engaged their servants for the coming year. They met at the Bear Inn. Each man wore, in his smock or hat, the emblem of his trade, a wisp of wool for a shepherd and some horsehair for a waggoner. On one occasion, believed to be the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, the black cannon, a prize from the Crimea, and once in front of the Bear Inn but now located in the grounds of the local almshouses near the church, was towed to the top of the hill behind the village, charged with black powder and fired. The "Stattis" was discontinued at the outbreak of the First World War.
Today the cannon can be found outside the 16th century Bear Inn.
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