About

On 17 May 1649, three soldiers were executed on Oliver Cromwell’s orders in Burford churchyard, Oxfordshire. They belonged to a movement popularly known as the Levellers, with beliefs in civil rights and religious tolerance.

During the Civil War, the Levellers fought on Parliament’s side, they had at first seen Cromwell as a liberator, but now saw him as a dictator. They were prepared to fight against him for their ideals and he was determined to crush them. Over 300 of them were captured by Cromwell’s troops and locked up in Burford church. Three were led out into the churchyard to be shot as ringleaders.

In 1975, members of the WEA Oxford Industrial Branch went to Burford to reclaim a piece of history that seemed to be missing from the school books. They held a meeting in remembrance of the Leveller soldiers. The following year, Tony Benn came and read in the church and in each succeeding year, people have come to Burford on the Saturday nearest to 17 May, debated, held a procession, listened to music and remembered the Levellers and the importance of holding on to ideals of justice and democracy.

Want to read more…

SERTUC has published The Levellers Movement, an account of perhaps the first political movement to represent the ordinary people. You can download it free here The Levellers Movement or order a hard copy (80 pages) from SERTUC, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS, price £2 – send coins or a cheque payable to SERTUC. Enquiries to mdobney@tuc.org.uk

Levellers drummer

6 thoughts on “About

  1. Really pleased this is still going strong. I used to come in the 90s from about 92 to 97 when i was active in Chippy Labour Party and have some material – leaflets etc from those days. Do you have a full archive? I miss it every year – maybe next …

    • Do you know the names of the levellers who were killed? My ancestors lived in Burford then and may well have witnessed this

  2. You asked two years ago! The answer is the same: Cornet Thompson, Corporal Perkins, Private Church. Cheers, Megan

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