The liberty of the landscape
in Protest and the politics of space and place, 1789–1848
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This chapter examines protesters’ attachment to the landscape. Peterloo reformers became involved in societies for the protection of footpaths in the 1820s. Increasingly unable to hold public meetings in town centres, Chartists and Owenite socialists held monster meetings on fields and moors outside urban jurisdiction. Using the sites and rituals of Methodist camp meetings, moorland meetings reflected a sense of place among protesters. The experience of the environment was physical and elemental, particularly the hard rambles of itinerant lecturers and the secret drilling of radicals at night. The popularity of the Chartist Land Plan among northern industrial workers demonstrated how radicals’ utopian visions of a better life lay in the land as well as the vote.

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