Each year, people gather in Manchester to remember the massive gathering there on 16 August 1819, when a meeting to demand political change turned into a bloodbath when local militia and military cavalry attacked the unarmed crowd. Speakers read speeches of the day and the listing of those killed at the meeting, now called Peterloo, a word that combines the remembered carnage of the battle at Waterloo a few years earlier with the location of the march, St. Peter’s field (near St. Peter’s church).
This year, organizers have invited everyone to create a piece for “The Peterloo Tapestry,” expressing their vision of what a planned permanent memorial should be. The plan is to erect such a monument by 2019, the bicentenary of the march. A news video by That’s Manchester shows some of the pieces.
The finished tapestry will be first shown in public during the reading of the names ceremony at 1 pm on 16th August, after the names are recited, near the protest spot. Find more event details on Facebook, where you can also keep up with all the doings of the Peterloo Memorial Campaign. Though I can’t attend this year, I expect some great photos from the events – and organizers say they have an even bigger event planned for 2017.
More on Peterloo and on how I used it in my novel, An Untitled Lady:
Prelude to Peterloo: Reformers call for peaceable assembly – Text of the poster calling on people to march to Manchester in August 1819
Prelude to Peterloo: Reformers call a Meeting – Text of the newspaper announcement calling for a public meeting
Remembering Peterloo – While writing my sprawling romantic historical An Untitled Lady, I arranged to travel to Manchester, England, the week of 16 August 2010, the 190th anniversary of the big protest march I set at the heart of the story.
Getting the details right: Peterloo – How writers try to resolve conflicts in historical and eyewitness accounts. Includes photos of some of the banners people marched with
A Response to Peterloo – On Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “The Masque of Anarchy”
Why I put a melee in a romantic novel – It might seem odd to set a story about two people falling in love in the middle of the troubles that led to Peterloo, but for me love helps people see things more clearly—including the outside world.
Sources: Manchester 1819 – The main references I used when writing An Untitled Lady
Book-club guide for An Untitled Lady – Covers story and history