Course overview

Part of the WEA Art and About Festival 2024! This gentle walk down the Strand to Fleet Street from Charing Cross Station will concentrate on the sites the area’s radical past. From the meeting places of the London Corresponding Society, to the Chartists & their Six Point Charter, Sylvia Pankhurst’s Communist Party of Great Britain’s headquarters, radical booksellers and publishers – all will be pointed out. We will take regular pauses to look at some of the evidence for what was once a hotbed of radical and revolutionary politicking. We will discuss the contribution and achievement of these movements and individuals and ask what their legacy is. We will meet at 10.30am at the Eleanor Cross, Charing Cross Station, London WC2N 5PH

Course description

There have been many attempts to construct a continuous narrative of English Radicalism . 18th and 19th century movements and thinkers often drew upon the notion of a love of liberty that ran through English history, Alfred the Great, Magna Carta, the Peasants Revolt etc. There is some truth in all of this but also much chaff to separate. But you can make an argument for this area of London being a hotbed of radicalism over a number of centuries.

If there is anything to connect the peasants of 1381 to the communists of the 1920s, The London Corresponding Society and the WSPU it may well be the Strand and Fleet Street. Few of the buildings remain but the road layouts are largely the same and some of the same landmarks punctuate the walk.

In the eighteenth century we would have been walking past coffeehouses and taverns, booksellers and printers. The purpose of this walk is to stand in the same places as radicals from 14th to the 20th century and to argue about whether there is such a thing as English Radicalism and what trace there is of it now. In the record and in our lives.

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