"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, they fought on Parliament’s side, 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, these three soldiers were executed on Oliver Cromwell’s orders in Burford churchyard, Oxfordshire.
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
Levellers Day is one of a family of events that celebrate and commemorate important dates in the history of the development of democracy in the United Kingdom. Together they create a focus for working people, socialists and the trade union and labour movement to come together and gain inspiration to carry forward their struggles into the future.
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