The exhibition ‘Refusing To Kill – Bristol’s World War 1 Conscientious Objectors‘ which was in Bristol Cathedral and the Central Library from September 2017 until February 2018 is in Bristol Archives from June 5th until July 14th.
The exhibition tells the story of the almost 400 men from Bristol and the surrounding area who, for moral, religious or political reasons, refused to fight in World War 1. Alongside most of the material displayed previously, there will be new exhibits. These include documents and photographs from the Bristol Archives. We have met relatives of more conscientious objectors over recent months and we are also pleased to be able to display artefacts relating to several of them.
If you have seen the exhibition previously, then there will be more to see. If you, or anyone you know, hasn’t seen it yet then this is your chance.
Bristol Archives opening hours are on their website here.
Next spring, Bristol will host a national festival which is the culmination of the year-long ‘COMMEMORATION, CONFLICT and CONSCIENCE‘ project. Focusing on the First World War then and now, the project will look at conscientious objectors to military service, strikes, mutinies, desertion and absenteeism, the men executed by the British military and the Shot at Dawn campaign which fought for them to be pardoned, the global reach of the war, colonial and commonwealth experiences, women’s peace activism, along with legacy, peace-building & alienation from commemoration.
There will be free events across the city , with films, performances, exhibitions and talks. Groups and individuals will come from across the country to showcase the work they have been doing during the centenary of World War 1.
The project and festival is funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council. The festival is timed to coincide with the centenary of the release of many absolutist conscientious objectors from prison in April 1919.
Details will be unveiled over the coming months but you can see more information on the project’s website here, including how you can get involved, especially if you have your own project you would like to make part of the festival.
You can keep up to date with the project on Facebook here and on Twitter here
Bristol has its second Radical History Festival at M Shed on Sunday May 6th. Thiis year’s festival marks the centenary of the end of World War 1 and the fiftieth anniversary of the momentous events in Paris in May 1968. You can see the full programme of talks, films, performances & walks on the Bristol Radical History Group’s website here The World War 1 strand has talks (and a film) as well as another chance to see the ‘On The Run’ puppet show about conscientious objectors. Talks are: Lois Bibbings on ‘Shot At Dawn’ – men shot for desertion and the campaign to pardon them. Full details here Andy Comyn – The Art of Remembrance. Andy is the sculptor who made the Shot At Dawn memorial in the National Memorial Arboretum. Full details here Ian Wright on conscientious objectors in the Forest of Dean. Full details here Tony T & Julian Putkowski on the mutiny at Taranto. A showing of Tony’s film about this mutiny among the British West Indian Regiment in 1918 followed by a discussion. Full details here Cyril Pearce on the ‘Men Who |Went Away’ – men whi went on the run to avoid conscription. Full details here Full programme for the day here For more information email email@example.com
The (free) lunchtime talk at the Central Library on Thursday April 19th is by Lois Bibbings, Professsor of Law, Gender and History at the University of Bristol and member of Remembering the Real World War 1.
Refusing to Kill – Bristol’s WW1 Conscientious Objectors
Over 350 men from the Bristol area refused to fight in World War 1. They claimed the status of conscientious objector for moral, religious or political reasons. Some agreed to take non-military roles. Others spent much of the war in prison, often under harsh conditions. This illustrated talk tells the stories of these men and the people in the city who supported them.
Date: Thursday 19th April
Venue: Bristol Central Library, College Green, Bristol BS1 5TL
Time: 12.30pm to 1.20pm
You can book for the talk on the Library’s Eventbritepage at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lunchtime-lectures-tickets-37847781734
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
140,000 Chinese men were brought to Europe as part of the Chinese Labour Corps of the British Army. They worked in difficult and hazardous conditions behind and in the trenches on the Western Front. After the war they were refused entry to Britain and shipped back to China. Under the Treaty of Versailles, the former German colonies in China were given to Japan.
Read more about the hidden history of the Chinese Labour Corps and the campaign to recognise their part in Britain’s war here
In collaboration with Remembering the Real World War 1 Otherstory Puppets have put together a puppet show ‘On The Run’ exploring the experiences of men who were on the run from conscription in World War 1.
Bristol Central Library are presenting a performance of the show on Tuesday 20th March
Doors open at 7.30pm at Bristol Central Library, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TL.
Tickets (£3 each) can be booked at your local library or via the Library’s Eventbrite page here.
Alongside the puppet show, there is a ‘Who Refused To Kill?‘ research workshop on Monday 26th March. Library staff and members of Remembering the Real World War 1 will show you how to access archive sources and online databases to find out about WW1 conscientious objectors
The workshop runs from 2pm to 4pm in the Public Meeting Room, at Bristol Central Library, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TL.
Places on the workshop are free but limited. You can book here or by calling 0117 9037250 or email email@example.com
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Now the Gloucester Theatre Company are staging a show ‘Pacifists & Protesters‘ This is made up of a new play ‘A Dangerous Woman‘ telling Alice’s story and a devised presentation, inspired by the words of poets, pacifists and other protesters. It comes to the Redgrave Theatre in Bristol on February 13th & 14th.
Bristol Radical History Group has just published ‘Ring Out The Thousand Wars Of Old’, the story of the Forest of Dean’s World War 1 conscientious objectors.
During World War One, 28 men from the Forest of Dean sought recognition as conscientious objectors rather than be called up to fight. This is the story of these men, the options available to them, the way they responded and what they did after the war. Ring Out the Thousand Wars of Old explores the role that religion, class, culture and place had on these individual decisions. It argues that the actions of the conscientious objectors were an expression of a much wider anti-war sentiment, reflecting increasing war weariness as casualties mounted and opposition to conscription grew.
After four months in Bristol Cathedral, the exhibition ‘Refusing To Kill – Bristol’s World War 1 Conscientious Objectors‘ has moved next door to the Central Library. It will be on display there until February 2nd.
Alongside most of the material displayed in the Cathedral, we have added new exhibits. Some of our own, plus books and documents provided by Library staff from their own collections. We have a new photograph of Bristol COs held at Knutsford in 1918, a letter describing a serious attack on COs at Knutsford and a recently discovered letter from Mabel Tothill describing the work she and her colleagues were doing in 1918 to support Bristol COs.
If you haven’t seen the exhibition already, then get down to the Library before February 2nd. If you visited it in the Cathedral, you’ll still see learn more from a visit to the Library.
While the exhibition was in the Cathedral it was visited by thousands of people. Some already knew something about COs; to others it was a complete revelation. Almost all were overwhelmingly positive and appreciative of the display.
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Date: Tuesday 2nd January 2018, Two performances at 13.15 & 15.30 Venue: Bristol Cathedral, College Green, BS1 5TJ Pianist: Steven Kings Soprano: Heather Ashford No booking required No admission charge but there will be a collection at each performance. It will be possible to view the Refusing To Kill exhibition before both performances. Additional material about Frank Merrick wil be added to the exhibition for the occasion. The exhibition continues in Bristol Cathedral until January 8th. It will then transfer to the Central Library for several weeks.
Visitors to the Refusing To Kill exhibition in Bristol Cathedral will have learnt about Frank Merrick and even heard his voice. With the support and involvement of Frank’s family we are now pleased to present a performance of some of his music. Frank Merrick was 31 when he was arrested as an absentee from the Army in 1917. His conscientious objection was founded upon moral and political beliefs and was demonstrated by the fact that as a longstanding vegetarian he refused to kill a single living being. An absolutist conscientious objector, he spent his war in prison. Born in Clifton, Frank was initially home educated. His talent as a pianist was soon noticed and he studied under Leschetizky in Vienna. In 1911 he went to teach at what was then the Royal Manchester College of Music where he became Professor of Music. Before the war he had been politically active in the fight for women to get the vote and had become a vegetarian, demonstrating a keen sense of social justice. In prison he managed to do a little composing (one of his Wormwood Scrubs pieces features in this concert) and he ‘practiced’ piano by pretending to play on a flat surface or pillow placed on his lap. Eventually freed on 24th April 1919, Frank returned to the College in Manchester, later teaching at the Royal College of Music in London. In the 1960s he came back to Clifton, celebrating the 75th anniversary of his first public recital with a concert at the Victoria Rooms. In recognition of his work the University of Bristol awarded him a Masters in Music. In 1978 he was made CBE. He died in 1981 at the age of 94. Maintaining his links with Bristol, his family lodged his papers with the University of Bristol. Several recordings of Frank’s performances were released on vinyl during his lifetime – a collection of these will, we hope, be reissued on CD in 2018.
Steven Kings trained in piano and composition at St John’s College Cambridge and the Guildhall School of Music. He has performed around the country as soloist, accompanist and chamber musician, with a wide solo repertoire ranging from Scarlatti to Ligeti. He is a regular performer in Bristol, where he lives. Steven Kings on Frank Merrick: “Frank Merrick’s music is lyrical and inventive, tonal in style but with some unusual chromaticism and harmonic colourings.” For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org