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Gedney November Ringing Outing 2016

The Littleport Riots, May 22/24, 1816

Not a subject that one would normally associate with a day bellringing in nearby Cambridgeshire. It was Saturday, November 26th, and after ringing at St Andrews,Soham and an excellent lunch at The Lamb Hotel, Ely, we had arrived at St Marys Church. It was while waiting for our contact to open the tower, and enjoying the autumnal sunshine, that I noticed a stone plaque on its southern wall with the ultimate words reading;

LET THEIR AWFUL FATE BE A WARNING TO OTHERS

Five men had been executed on June 28th 1816, their crimes being stealing during the above riots, which also spread to Ely. Unknowingly I had stumbled upon an aspect of local history of which I had no previous knowledge. The riots were caused by high unemployment, rising grain costs-basically these poor people were hungry. Eighty-two were rounded up, of which twenty-three men and one woman were tried and condemned, nine being transported to Australia and the five above executed and buried in a mass grave in St Marys churchyard. Of course, times were different in those days, but I couldn't help a feeling of sorrow for their awful fate.

Our final call was St James Church, Stretham, with its spotless carpeted mezzanine ringing room and six delightful bells. We rang our best on these bells, Stedman Doubles, St Clements Minor and a well struck course of Kent Treble Bob. Emerging from the tower, the sun, which had followed us throughout the day, was on the western horizon. Thanks once again to Angela's driving we were whisked back to Gedney, arriving at around 5.30pm, a convenient time for a welcome cup of tea. We offer our thanks to Janet Curry who organised a pleasant day out and to our visitors- Val Wild (Kirton), Mick Smith and his wife from Boston, Brian Plummer ( Whaplode) and Stephen and Julie Bennett, Desford, Leics., whose company we enjoyed and who assisted with the ringing

John Bennett