The Kennington Chartist Project was set up by local residents to raise local awareness of the 1848 Chartist Rally on Kennington Common. It is supported by the Friends of Kennington Park, and the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund. To find out more about the Kennington Chartist Project, click here.
There is also information about the Chartists in the history section on this website.
The project launched on Tuesday April 10th 2018 in Kennington Park. This was the 170th anniversary of the Chartist rally on Kennington Common, the project will run until the autumn.
Flag bearers walked from each of the four meeting points of the Chartists in 1848, representing the four divisions of London Chartists:
“ East Division on Stepney Green at 8 o'clock; City and Finsbury Division on Clerkenwell Green at 9o'clock: West Division in Russell Square at 9 o'clock, and the South Division in Peckham Fields at 9o'clock and proceed thence to Kennington Common!”
They arrived in Kennington Park at 10.45am to the sound of a bugle and over 100 people braved the rather muddy conditions on the south field to welcome them. Richard Galpin, Project Manager of the Kennington Chartist Project, introduced the event and Tom Collins "declaimed" the speech given 170 years ago by the Irish born Chartist Leader Feargus O'Connor. Steve Martin (local historian S I Martin) told the story of William Cuffay, son of an emancipated slave, who was transported to Tasmania later that year for his role in organising a planned Chartist uprising.
There were stalls with Chartists books and literature, old maps and photographs and badge making. Many people sported green red and white ribbons - the colours of the Chartists.
There were two walks, the morning one was entitled Remembering the Day led by Marietta Crichton Stuart (Chair FoKP) and told the story of what happened on that actual day 170 years ago from the thousands marching to the common to the rather damp end when the bundles of Charter signatures went off to Parliament in hansom cabs and the crowds dispersed having been prevented from marching on Parliament by the heavy police presence with the army in reserve. Marietta pointed out that the Job Centre was the site of the Horns Tavern, the police HQ on the day and from where William Kilburn, a professional photographer, took the two Daguerreotypes (now in the Royal Collection) which show the Chartists crowds on the common.
The afternoon walk by Jon Newman (Lambeth Archives) was called Why Kennington? It recalled 1848 sometimes known as the Springtime of the Peoples when there was revolution and unrest throughout Europe, a year that saw the publication of the Communist Manifesto. Kennington Common had long been a place where demonstrations and mass gatherings took place. The Chartist legacy was the creation of Kennington Park in 1854 when the area was gated and enclosed by railings and transformed into a park with trees and planting, closely monitored by numerous gardeners and park supervisors.
Between April and October the Kennington Chartist Project held a series of walks, talks and workshops:
- Guided walks in the park about the Chartists in April, June and July. In October there are two walks for Lambeth Black History Month, Saturday 6 October 2pm at St Mark's Church, Oval and Saturday 13 October 2pm at the junction of Manor Place/Walworth Road
- Free Historical talks in April and May in St Marks church, the former site of Gallows Corner on the old common.
- Stalls at the Kennington Fete in Cleaver Square on Sunday 17 June and the North Lambeth Parish Fete at Lambeth Palace on Saturday 30 June and occasionally at the Oval Farmers' Market
- Kennington 1848-2018, Workshops and participation, a Chartist Celebration, in Kennington Park on Saturday 7 July from 11am to 4pm, despite the very hot weather and the World Cup football there was a large attendance to this event in the park. There was banner making (and an amazing display of old banners), print making and T shirt printing, spoken word with some great poetry, St Mark's Community choir including Chartist songs, a lively debate, ideas for a permanent memorial to the Chartists in the park, storytelling, two history walks and the opportunity to chat with several delicious food stalls.
- Lambeth Local History Fair on Saturday 1 September, Clapham Omnibus, Clapham Common North Side a stall and talk on the Chartists
- Talk for the Friends of the Durning Library, Monday 17 September, "Kennington and Chartism, 1848-2018, in the Durning Library as part of Lambeth Heritge Month.
- Workshops with local primary schools, and with young people, exploring writing a new charter, and the traditions of oratory, protest song, and banners.
Historic Research - looking for the stories of Chartists in Lambeth and Walworth and where they lived using census records, street maps, Post Office directories, newspaper archives. So far we have found local Chartist supporters who emigrated to the US and Australian and one who ended up in Oxford Jail. If you are interested in getting involved please contact us via the website. www.kenningtonchartistproject.org