‘Among the most courageous of radicals’. A profile of the atheist political activist who founded the National Secular Society. Contributors include MPs Enoch Powell and Michael Foot.
On the 1st of November I was privileged to represent the Charles Bradlaugh Society in order to attend the unveiling of the bust of Bradlaugh in London.
How times change. In 1880, Mr Bradlaugh was denied the right to take his seat as the chosen elected Member of Parliament for Northampton. Not just denied the right, but actually roughed up in the “House” and imprisoned in the clock tower.
A hundred and thirty six years after this injustice, Bradlaugh’s memory and his honour is resplendently displayed with a fine bust by Suzie Zamit.
The artist took to the podium and told a packed room, that she had decided to capture Mr Bradlaugh at the very peak of his powers, before stress had prematurely aged him. She certainly captured his very essence, and one could feel the gravitas of the man, as he must have been in life.
She added, “I feel privileged as an artist to have had the chance to bring this visionary Victorian to life and to give recognition to a heroic man who worked tirelessly to achieve what he believed in – even in the face of adversity. After poring over every existing photo of Bradlaugh and reading Bryan Niblett’s book Dare to Stand Alone, I was able to start piecing together a fuller picture of the man himself, and I relished the challenge. I found various written descriptions of his ‘grave, quiet, stern, strong face’; his ‘direct gaze and large blue eyes’: his height and athletic proportions, and his great charisma and ability to command a packed hall”.
Mr Keith Porteous Wood, of the National Secular Society, also spoke at the event, remarking that when he saw the bust for the first time, he almost felt he could reach forward with an outstretched hand and shake the hand of his hero, such was the likeness.
The event was hosted with impeccable skill and charm by Wirral South MP, Alison McGovern.
Charles Bradlaugh will take his rightful place in the lower waiting hall of Westminister, where it is hoped his bust might inspire future generations.
Charles Bradlaugh Society Publicity Officer, Garry Marlowe, attended Parliament on 1 November for the unveiling of a newly commissioned bust of Charles Bradlaugh as part of the National Secular Society 150 year anniversary, Charles Bradlaugh was the first President of the NSS from 1866.
At last night’s Talk presented by Chris Pounds to the Brixworth History Society the petition to Save the Bradlaugh Hall in Lahore was relaunched with a new on-line petition.
Please visit the Petition page and sign the petition by clicking here.
Also please circulate it to as many people as possible.
The Society is keen to research the actual arguments put forward by Charles Bradlaugh, which on first look seem to be around the sovereignty of the people outweighs the legislation of Parliament.
To further this research a representative of the Society will be attending a British Constitution meeting on 19 November 2016 in order to engage with a suitably knowledgeable person who may be able to shed light on whether Bradlaugh and the people of Northampton were unjustly treated by his expulsion from the House, despite the limitations of the Parliamentary Oaths Act 1866.
If you are interested in joining our Chair on Saturday 19 November travelling down to Winchester to arrive for 10:30am then please use the contact page to make yourself known. The British Constitution meeting is charging £10 in advance for entry.
Space is limited.
Rather short notice, however we are pleased that Chris Pounds will be giving his excellent talk on:
‘Charles Bradlaugh: The Member for Northampton and India.’
again to Brixworth History Society at the Village Hall, Holcott Road, Brixworth.
Village Hall website : http://www.brixworthvillagehall.co.uk
The Hall is situated on the Holcot Road, near the village centre.
The talk commences at 7:30pm
LA LIBRE PENSEE (FRENCH FEDERATION OF FREETHINKERS)
SPEECH AT THE CHARLES BRADLAUGH CEREMONY
NORTHAMPTON, SEPTEMBER 25TH 2016
Citizens, Friends, Fellows and Comrades, as we say in France.
It’s a great honour and a real pleasure to be with you today, here in Abington square in the heart of Northampton, a working class town.
On behalf of the French National Federation of Freethought, la Libre Pensée, we have to pay tribute to the great Charles Bradlaugh for 3 reasons at least.
As you know, Charles Bradlaugh was a radical republican Member of Parliament for this Northampton constituency. For many years during the Napoleon III‘s Empire, the word Republican forbidden in France was replaced by radical. Bradlaugh, fluent in French, was in strong connection with French political exiles in Britain as Louis Blanc, or Elisee Reclus geographer and anarchist.
As it has been told during the lecture, Charles Bradlaugh was a Mason. Initiated in the Order of Memphis in 1859, he joined the High Cross Lodge of the United Grand Lodge of England which he resigned in 1874 due to the election of Prince of Wales as Grand Master. Soon after Bradlaugh was affiliated in the Lodge Union & Perseverance, Grand Orient of France in Paris..
But last but least, Charles Bradlaugh, a Freethinker, founded in 1866 the National Secular Society here in Britain, the sister organization of la Libre Pensée. I’m deeply glad to salute its chairman, Terry Sanderson standing here in front of this statue.
Soon after that, Bradlaugh was the cornerstone of the founding of the first International Association of Freethought in Brussels, in 1880, along with men as Karl Liebknecht, the German revolutionary, Cesar de Paepe a leader of the Belgian Labour Party, and Ferdinand Buisson future founding father of the 1905 Law of Separation of Church & State in France.
His daughter Hypatia Bradlaugh, and mainly his grandson Charles Bradlaugh-Bonner, both leaders of the NSS, were also deeply involved in the international Freethought movement from an International Congress in London in 1938 to his death in 1966.
The World Union of Freethinkers suffered both World War II and the Cold War, and we deeply agree to this statement made in 1952 by Frank Ridley, then Chairman of the NSS : “Freethought has no fought Rome and Ancient Regimes for centuries to surrender today in front of Franco or Staline”
After decades of division or isolation, the strong efforts of leaders of both NSS and la Libre Pebnsée gave the opportunity to launch a new International Association of Freethought in a congress held in Oslo in August 2011, where our longtime friend Keith Porteus Wood present today was elected as one of the international spokespersons.
To conclude, we are optimistic in the real and worldwide need for full Freedom of Conscience by a strict Separation of Church & State.
We’re optimistic when we saw the result of Irish Referendum on marriage for all in deeply catholic ruled country…
We are optimistic when we saw 20.000 citizens shouting out in the streets of London “Make the Pope pay!” and so on…
So we will organize in September 2017 in Paris the 7th World Congress of Freethought to continue to organize these struggles. You are all invited.
Warmful thanks and congratulations to the Charles Bradlaugh Society for this memorable day.
Thanks for your welcome.
Thank you to all those that made the journey to yesterday’s very enjoyable 15th commemoration of Charles Bradlaugh, MP for Northampton.
In particular visitors representing the International Association of Free Thought made the journey from Clermont Ferrand in France.
Philippe extended an invitation to everyone to join him and his wife in Paris next year for the IAFT Conference which we are pleased to accept and hope to send a representative from the Society.
Terry Sanderson and Keith Porteous Wood represented the National Secular Society of which Bradlaugh was the first President and is celebrating its 150th Anniversary this year with the unveiling of a bust of Charles Bradlaugh in Parliament on 2 November 2016 and again the CBS has been invited to send a representative which we will be pleased to accept.
The last mention goes out to the loveliest Labrador we’ve ever had attend the commemoration.
Just 5 days to go until the 15th Annual Commemoration on Sunday 25th September.
We hope to meet as many Friends of the Society as possible and everyone is welcome.
The weather forecast is looking bright and sunny….(famous last words)
1pm Bradlaugh Talk at the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP
2pm Bradlaugh Walk meeting at Bradlaugh’s portrait on the top floor of the museum at 2pm and arriving at the statue for 3pm.
3pm Bradlaugh Commemoration at his statue in Abington Square, Northampton.
Let’s make this Bradlaugh Day the best yet!!