Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Staunton and Snig's End, Gloucestershire

Chartism was a movement for social change that began in 1838 as a working-class reaction to the 1832 Reform Act, which had given the vote to many members of the middle classes but excluded the lower social orders. The movement began with a document called the People’s Charter, which demanded half a dozen political and electoral reforms (universal suffrage for men over 21, equal-sized constituencies, voting by secret ballot, an end to the property qualification for MPs, pay for MPs, and annual parliamentary elections). Two waves of protests and riots followed in the Chartists’ cause, culminating in 1848 in a mass meeting on London’s Kennington Common, but after 1848 the movement lost momentum. Even so, all but the last of its aims eventually became law, with a much-increased franchise in 1867 and the secret ballot introduced in 1872.

So what does all this have to do with English buildings? Another issue espoused by the Chartists was the lower classes’ access to land. Chartists believed that one solution to the well-being of working people was to give them access to land that they could cultivate. The Chartist Co-operative Land Company was formed and five estates of bungalows were built, each dwelling set in a 2- to 4-acre plot, and allocated to applicants chosen by lot. One such development was at Staunton. Although the land company was short-lived and the bungalows were sold off, many of the original buildings survive, and their design – two wings on either side of a central, gabled section, is unmistakeable. The kitchen was in the middle, with the bedroom and sitting room on either side. The photograph below shows one of the bungalows looking rather like it must have done when built – many of the others have been rendered and some have been extended. Nearby was another Chartist settlement, Snig’s End, where the focal point was an impressive school, above, with classrooms on either side of a gabled centre section. It’s a pub now, but its brickwork still glows.


Peter Ashley said...

I think it's a Chartist railway station.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Snig's End! Change here for Lowbands, Tirley, Haw Bridge, and Deerhurst Junction!
(Lowbands is another Chartist settlement, by the way. Additional information at no extra charge...)

Anonymous said...

I live in a chartist cottage. Locally.
This building was built as a chartist school originally.
It became a public house and is now vacant.
It was built purposefully as a school.