A weekend to celebrate the rights of people to organise to make the world a better place.
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A brief history of the Tolpuddle Martyrs
The Tolpuddle village has become a place of great importance to the labour movement. And it all started with six farm workers who organised and formed a union so that they could discuss ways to improve their lives and stop landowners from making further pay cuts to an already impoverished workforce.
The workers met either under the sycamore tree in the village or in the upper room of one of their cottages. Members swore an oath of secrecy – it was this act that led to the men’s arrest and subsequent sentence of seven years' transportation.
At the time, transportation to the penal colonies was brutal, and essentially a death sentence. Few ever returned as the harsh voyage and rigours of slavery took their toll.
After the sentence was declared, the working class and fledgling trade union movement rose up in support of the farm workers, who by that point had been sent to the other side of the world. A massive demonstration marched through London and an 800,000-strong petition was delivered to Parliament protesting about their sentence.
The movement did not relent for two years until eventually, the campaign to win free pardons and safe passage home for the Tolpuddle Martyrs was successful.
The victory confirmed the right of working people to organise themselves into trade unions as part of a free society.
A more detailed history of the Tolpuddle Martyrs can be read here.
For ticket enquiries, please use the contact us details on the Tolpuddle Museum website.