The Putney Debate 1647

Jack Straw, Tony Benn, Antonia Fraser take part in Putney Debates Exhibition


The full list of events can be found on the calendar 

Illustrations by Clare Melinsky, 
Rampart Lion Publications

Tickets 020 8871 8711

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter

Jack Straw, Tony Benn, Antonia Fraser, Geoffrey Robertson QC and leading historians John Morrill and Quentin Skinner are amongst those who give their views on the importance of the Putney Debates to the formation of democracy in video interviews with Tristram Hunt – part of the new permanent exhibition at St Mary’s church Putney, funded by HLF: 

The Exhibition: The Putney Debates 1647: Cromwell and Democracy 2007

St Mary’s won a Guardian readers’ competition in 2006 for the event most needing marking in Britain’s radical past. The Debates, which represent a turning point in the struggle for democracy, took place at a time when the Roundheads were winning the English civil war.  Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army had bested the Cavaliers and Charles I himself was in custody.  The rank and file of the Roundhead army argued their case for a democratic state based on male suffrage, religious toleration, rights of property and parliamentary reform.  Transcripts of the debates taken by army secretary William Clarke only came to light in the nineteenth century. These extraordinary discussions remain as vibrant today as 360 years ago.   The exhibition includes:

Extracts from William Clarke’s transcripts of the Debates and how the manuscript came to be found in Worcester College Oxford by former keeper Lesley le Claire.

·         Protagonists in the Debates, including local firebrand preacher Hugh Peters

·         Putney in the 17th century Historical Society

·         The Church in the 17th c.: Oxford historian William Whyte

·        The Debates, Democracy and Civil Rights: Geoffrey Robertson QC

·        An audio narrative extracts from the Debates and audio description

The Events 26 October – 2 November 2007

There will also be a week of events 26 October including performances by Wimbledon Youth Theatre, a new version of the Debates by Extant: ‘A Putney Light Shines’ performed by professional actors, a political debate organised by Verso publishers chaired by Shami Chakrabarti with Billy Bragg and Geoffrey Robertson an American university event on the connection between the Debates and the US constitution, re-enactment by Civil War Society The Tower Hamlets Trayned Bandes (part of the Sealed Knot) and a river event rowing MPs and Black Rod from Westminster to Putney. 

September 14, 2007