26 June 2019 IN: Bishop
Mike Leigh’s film, Peterloo, brought back memories of my school history lessons. We were taught about its significance in leading to the prominence of Manchester and surrounding towns in the Industrial Revolution.
The massacre of men and women in the city centre by a drunken rampaging militia, supported by prominent clergy magistrates, changed everything. A society obsessed by fears (or hopes) of a French-style revolution engulfing Britain, began to realise that violent suppression was no more the answer than violent uprising. Instead, reform and renewal in democracy and religion proved the way forward. Within a generation Manchester had both its own Members of Parliament and diocese. Soon it was at the leading edge of the Trades Union movement and the campaign for women’s rights.
We commemorate the 200th anniversary of Peterloo with a service at the Cathedral at 2pm on Sunday 7 July. Join us if you can, or support the memory of Peterloo through prayers in your own church.
The anniversary is a chance to look back at a key date in our heritage, and an opportunity to pledge ourselves to sustain a society in which all are given the rights and dignity for which the speakers in St Peter’s field were calling that day in 1819.