Hampshire during the English Civil War was a pretty miserable place. Looting was rife and the population politically divided and plagued by disease. Into this gloomy scene came the London rope-maker William Franklin, a self-proclaimed Messiah, who set up camp in Andover in 1649 with his female companion Mary Gadbury. Was he a visionary or a blasphemer? Local historian Alex Beeton talks to Julie Dypdal about this fascinating tale, the fluctuating fortunes of Franklin and his band of followers and the light this shines on society at the time.
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