Ferguson's Gang

 OUT           NOW

a picture

The Remarkable Story of the National Trust Gangsters
ferguson's gang picnic with Shot Biddy, Bloody Beershop and Bill Stickers

Ferguson's Gang

Their story is told in:

and now a children's picture book:

   Ferguson's Gang were a diverse band of women. Their mastermind was Peggy Gladstone, a brilliant scholar and the great great niece of Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone. Peggy left Newnham College, Cambridge, with a double first in Oriental Languages, the first woman to do so. Inspired by the National Trust's successful campaign to save Stonehenge, she and five friends vowed to do their bit to conserve Britian's disappearing heritage. 
   To add excitement to the project, Peggy formed a Ferguson's Gang, a secret society who swore allegiance to each other. They adopted pseudonyms and vowed to remain anonymous for the rest of their lives. Peggy became Bill Stickers, after the instruction, 'Bill stickers will be prosecuted', found on the walls of buildings.
They carefully recorded their exploits and rituals, as well as their elaborate picnics, but took their real names to the grave.
Polly Bagnall is the granddaughter of the Gang's architect, John E M Macgregor OBE.
An artist, therapist and now author, Polly grew up in Shalford Mill the first property saved by Ferguson's Gang. Her grandfather repaired the old watermill which was the first of three projects he worked on with the Gang.

Ferguson's Gang
Sally Beck and Polly Bagnall are available to present fully illustrated talks about the Gang
 with an extensive collection of exclusive archival photographs.
Talks are usually 45 minutes with additional time for questions and book signings.

Ottershaw Nightowls WI - June 4th 2019

Collumpton, National Trust South West  January 2019 
Another successful series of talks this year including:  
Eastbury Manor House Centenary, Barking

Bath Museums, No1 Royal Crescent, Bath
Stonehenge Site, 

ENGAGEMENTS 2016 and 2017
Richmond Literary Festival, Hampton Library 2016

Oxford Literary Festival 2016
Shalford Mill Book signings and tours
Ightham Mote, Sevenoaks
The Guildhall,  Winchester SO23 9BE
Local History Groups in Surrey and Kent

​If you are interested in commissioning a talk in your area do get in touch  click here .

Music, art and theatre inspired by Ferguson's Gang

A round up from 2018

 'The People vs The Octopus'

'Women & Power' Cornwall

This summer Ferguson's Gang inspired an interractive art event in Swindon:
​ satirical games, installations and interruptions provoked debate about the housing sector. The project was inspired by Ferguson's Gang, who used play, imagination and theatricality to fight for conservation of heritage and countryside. The People vs the Octopus, took over high streets with hilarious, absurd and thought provoking interventions that playfully spread like tentacles through a given site.  By Mufti Games.
A new art installation to celebrate the legacy that Ferguson’s Gang left to the people of Cornwall, Tentacles can be discovered at places that were endowed to the National Trust by the Gang. The interventions have been created by designer Katie Cadwallader in partnership with Kestle Barton: Rural Centre for Contemporary Arts; the National Trust; and artist collective Fourthland, to highlight the enduring relevance of Ferguson's Gang  in Cornwall.
click here for more info
click here for more info

"Ferguson's Gang" the Musical​​

Extraordinary Women & Art

A brand new musical based on the story of Ferguson’s Gang.
Set in the era of the Great Gatsby when Stonehenge was under threat, the musical follows the Gang members'
personal battles as well as their successes to impede the tentacles of creeping urban development.            
Presented by Echo-Time with AshGate Productions 
Book, Music and Lyrics by Martin Coslett, Thomas Forbes Briscombe. Directed by Andrew Miller. Musical Direction by Nick Barstow
With support from the National Trust
As part of the National Trust Heritage weekend women artists were celebrated at Shalford Mill, the first property Ferguson’s Gang donated to the Trust. Fabulous tapestries made by Peggy Pollard leader of the Gang were on display alongside work by female relatives of John Macgregor (the Gang's architect): These included sculpture by Joanna Bagnall, Kirstie Clark and Anna Pohorely; paintings by Polly and Caroline Bagnall; Ceramics by Sally Lewis and Ali Tomlin; prints by Miriam (Tootie) Macgregor and patchwork quilts by Sarah and Sally Lewis amongst others. 
click here for more info
click here for more info

Period Living Feature November 2017

Philanthropy before Facebook
Jane Merrick
The Independent 
Saturday 5 December
Facebook brings out boasting in all of us, particularly those with children. I am guilty of posting messages of pride about my daughter. But Mark Zuckerberg surpassed us all when he revealed on his own page that he was giving £30bn to a new charitable foundation (but which can still make a profit) in honour of his newborn daughter. 
While this astonishing amount of money will hopefully make a difference, something makes me a bit queasy about such ostentatious philanthropy. It is a far cry from the antics of a group of well-heeled British women in the 1930s who went undercover to save the National Trust from rack and ruin. Wearing masks and with pseudonyms like Red Biddy and Bill Stickers, Ferguson’s Gang raised money to save the trust’s buildings and gardens, delivering it undercover – £500 was stuffed into a bottle of sloe gin, while a £100 note was stuffed into a cigar. They never revealed their names, but a new book, Ferguson’s Gang, by Sally Beck and Polly Bagnall, uncovers these shy philanthropists.

Ferguson's Gang
The Remarkable Story of the National Trust Gangsters
on Lovereading.co.uk and National Trust Books

Bargain Hunt- click here

BBC$ film polly bagnall at Shalford mIll for Heritage! the Battle for Britains Past
Polly Bagnall, Michael Portillo Libby Purves talk about Ferguson's Gang on Radio 4 Midwwek
Bargain Hunt, Polly bagnall talks to Tim Wonnacot about Ferguson's Gang at Shalford Mill

  1. Polly Bagnall on Radio 4 'Midweek'
    November 2015
    Polly Bagnall (far left) talks to Libby Purves on Radio 4's 'Midweek', setting the record straight about the early days of the National Trust and why an assorted band of charismatic women became their most benevolent fund-raisers.
  2. Ferguson's Gang Book Launch
    November 2015
    Small and bustling, Village Books in Dulwich Village was transformed as friends, relatives and curious guests celebrated the arrival of 'Ferguson's Gang, the Remarkable Story of the National Trust Gangsters'.
  3. BBC 'Bargain Hunt'
    Spring 2014
    Polly Bagnall meets with Tim Wonnacot from BBC TV's 'Bargain Hunt' at Shalford Mill, where Ferguson's Gang had their secret headquarters.
  4. BBC 4 'Heritage, the Battle for Britain's Past'
    Autumn 2012
    Filmed at the opening of 'Taming the Tentacles' exhibition on the Gang curated by Polly Bagnall in 2012 at National Trust property, Shalford Mill. Daughters of The Artichoke, Joanna Bagnall and Penelope Adamson, talk about the role Ferguson's Gang played in rural conservation.

Ferguson's Gang raised money to save quirky, but beautiful English buildings and priceless stretches of the Cornish coastline.Their fascinating story is remarkable and compelling.
In collaboration with friends and relatives of the of Ferguson's Gang and with the support of the National Trust, a detailed history of the Gang is made available for the first time.
Fergusons gang minute book with Shalford Mill, Newtown Old Town Hall, Mayon Cliffs, Trevescan Cliffs, Priory Cottages, Frenchman's Creek
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