I’m often asked “why call your blog Norton Folgate?” and “What is Norton Folgate?”.This is the answer: Why would I call my blog Norton Folgate when it has no obvious relevance to the content I post?
Norton Folgate is now a short length of street that connects Shoreditch High Street and Bishopsgate in the City of London. It’s an area of London with some serious history. It’s also the area where I had one of my first recruitment jobs, and probably the most memorable place I ever worked. (my boss then Christine Jones is still a close friend and Godmother to my daughter. It was at this time that I first became an accidental member of a social community, some 28 years ago. Long before the internet and social-media. This area played a key part in who I am and how I think now.It’s also been in my blood. Before I was born,my Grandmother who I never met, was arrested in Brick Lane for throwing eggs at Oswald Mosley,an allegiance with Hitler! the leader of the U.K.fascists, prior to the start of world war 2. Mosley was pushing for an allegiance with Hitler!

Norton Folgate, in history was a liberty. A liberty was self-governing,by the people for the people. The Liberty of Norton Folgate is a unique place. Originally recorded as nine acres in the Doomsday Book, it existed for almost a thousand years as an un-parished self-governing district just north of Bishopsgate between the parishes of Spitalfields and Shoreditch.

After the reformation of Henry VIII and the dissolution of the Priory Hospital the anomalous landholding became a secular “liberty” governed by ten “ancient inhabitants” who took turns to assume various official duties and govern the Liberty from the Court House at 1 Folgate Street.

The officers of the Liberty included the Headborough, two Overseers, a Scavenger and a Constable
In 1656 the ancient inhabitants claimed to be a distinct jurisdiction “endowed with ample privileges conferred before the Conquest”.

In the early 19th Century the government of the Liberty was reorganised and vested in a board of twenty “trustees”. This situation lasted until 1900 when the Liberty was suspended and its territory incorporated in the new Metropolitan Borough of Stepney.

The last meeting of the Trustees was held at the Norton Folgate Court House on October 24th of that year.

The concept of a liberty is one that fits with the unconference way of doing things. All of the participants are responsible for “governing” themselves. That means making up their own mind over what tracks they want to attend or take part in, and through conversation determining what the content will be. Removing the confines of the traditional conference like presentations, powerpoints, one way presentations and squeezing in a bit of time for q and a if your lucky, and replacing it with real conversation, responsibility for self, plenty of track options and encouragig people to share their own views changes the whole experience. It really is self-governing, a bit like Norton Folgate.

This week on Wednesday 20′th and Thursday 21′st July, we will be gathering in Boston at the HQ of Bullhorn,and recreating the spirit of Norton Folgate.A self-governing liberty!

I hope we can see you there in person, on the twitter stream or at the party on Wednesday evening, the #TruBostonTParty. You can still get tickets if you want to experience what it is like in a liberty! That’s why this blog is called Norton Folgate. Be a part of a growing liberty!