Ever felt like pretending to be a Chartist for a day? Of course you have! It’s not the easiest thing to pull off, though, is it? To start with where are you going to find a fustian jacket? And the Northern Star, you may have noticed, is no longer published in half-a-dozen editions each Saturday. Let’s not forget, too, that torchlight meetings on the moors accompanied by the crack of pistol shots into the night air don’t seem to get organised much any more. So you’re stumped in your quest to be a Chartist for a day. Or are you?
In fact you’re not stumped at all. On 21 September in London you can get can pretty close to finding out what it was like to actually be a Chartist. OK so you won’t be wearing a fustian jacket – though you are invited to dress up in any Victorian gear you happen to have lying around – and you won’t be marching twenty miles to any desolate moors in the middle of London … but you will be visiting pubs in the St. Pancras/Tottenham Court Road/Soho area where reports of Chartist meetings held in those places will be read aloud and you’ll end up at the famous Chartist pub the Red Lion, where they’ll be food and a re-enactment of a Chartist meeting. Sounds like a rather good way to spend a day.
The day begins at 12.30 in the Foyle Suite, Centre of Conservation, in the British Library. Once you’ve had your lunch, they’ll be talks from Katrina Navickas (University of Hertfordshire), Matthew Sangster (University of Birmingham) and Ian Haywood (Roehampton University). And then the walk begins. It might, of course, rain. The Chartists didn’t have umbrellas and used to just get wet; but you are advised to bring an umbrella.
This event is being organised by Katrina Navickas in association with the British Library. Katrina is one of the rising young stars of Chartist scholarship. Her work in locating and linking together the places and spaces where the Chartists met is important. If you are interested in the Chartists, you’ll learn much from this day – and you’ll have fun!
If you’d like to know more, I suggest you contact katrina at firstname.lastname@example.org