Tolpuddle Martyrs:The Six that dared to stand for what they believed in
The Tolpuddle Martyrs put the village of Tolpuddle on the map.What would otherwise be a very pretty but little known village in Dorset how has international fame.
The Martyrs were six labourers ,lead by George Loveless ,who, in the 19th Century formed the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers to protest against the lowering of wages in the 1830s.
The establishment of the day lead by the local magistrate James Frampton decided to invoke an obscure law which forbade the taking of secret oaths.This law was actually brought in to prevent the formation of associations in the military,but that did not bother Frampton.
At a biased trial in
where half the jury were related to the magistrate,the six were found guilty and transported to Australia for seven years.Just another example of the establishment closing ranks to maintain the status quo.
The six became popular heroes and with the support of the Home Secretary Lord John Russell were brought back, George coming first in 1837.
The London Dorchester Committee raised funds to buy the Martyrs farms in Essex,where they remained before emigrating to London Ontario,Canada perhaps to escape all the publicity.Here they lived in obscurity until their death,although one James Hammett returned to Tolpuddle and is buried in the local church.
You can learn all this and more at the museum which is one the road into Tolpuddle if you are coming from the west .Post code is DT2 7EH.It is housed in just one room of some cottages built to mark the centenary of the Martys conviction.There is also a bus service through the village the 387 Poole to Dorchester which stops right outside the museum.
From April to October the museum is open every day except Monday and in the winter it is open Thursday to Sunday. Opening time is 10am.Admission is free though there is a donation box where £1 is requested. There is also a shop next the museum where you can buy CDs and books about The Six.
There is a Martyrs Tree to see if you walk into the village and out the other side is a pub which of course is called the Martrys Inn
To keep the spirit of the Tolpuddle Martyrs alive, an annual festival is held in July in a field next to the village. Organised by the Trades Union Congress, big names such as Tony Benn & Billy Bragg make speeches and play music.
So come on, supports the workers.
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