Putney Debates Deserves Monument Says Poll

Funds needed to display copy of transcript at Church

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When readers of a national newspaper were asked to choose which neglected radical event from British history most deserved a proper monument they nominated an event which happened in Putney. The Putney Debates, which took place in St. Mary the Virgin the Parish Church of Putney, beat the Peterloo massace into second place in a poll of Guardian readers.

In 1647 members of the Roundhead army discussed the future of the country in a heated and prolonged debate. A group called the Levellers argued for universal male suffrage but their arguments were ultimately dismissed by Oliver Cromwell.

The medieval tower of the Church remains from this time. Above the entrance to the Church is a quotation from the debates by Thomas Rainsborough which says "For really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he."

The vicar of Putney, Giles Fraser points out in an article in the Guardian that the Church at Putney has continued in its radical tradition. He said, "it is more than a coincidence that this church originated the motion that concluded with the ordination of women in the Church of England and launched the Inclusive Church movement aimed at combating ecclesiastical homophobia."

The original transcripts of the Putney debates are in Worcester College, Oxford. Giles Fraser has approached the college and it has agreed to the principle of a copy of the document being made.

Putney parish church plans to reproduce the original transcripts of the Putney Debates and put them on public display. If you wish to make a donation cheques, made out to the Putney Parish Development Trust, should be sent to Rev Dr Giles Fraser, vicar of Putney, 45 St John's Avenue, SW15 6AL.

October 20, 2006