This seven-panel display places the reform riots of 1831 in Dorset and Somerset within the wider context of the national struggle for reform. From the foundation of popular Political Unions in 1830 campaigning for expansion of the franchise to the collapse of Wellington’s government later that year, this was a period of significant political change centred on reform of the parliamentary system.
The exhibition exposes the importance of the Dorset by-election of 1831 as both a microcosm of the national struggle over electoral reform and as a precipitator for the riots that followed, first in Dorchester followed by Poole, Blandford, and Sherborne in Dorset and Yeovil in Somerset. The latter three events are studied with detailed narratives and text and images on maps of the towns from the 1830s demonstrating the selective targeting of the rioters.
The final panel challenges common myths about riots using examples from the 1831 narratives to outline contemporary social psychological understandings of crowd behaviour.
The Dorset and Somerset exhibition will be appearing at these venues:
- October 6th – 28th, 2022: Blandford Museum, Bere’s Yard, Blandford Forum, Dorset, DT11 7HQ
- November 1st – 31st December, 2022: Corn Exchange, 17 Market Pl, Blandford Forum DT11 7AG
- TBC 2023: Taunton Library, Paul Street, Taunton, TA1 3XZ
- TBC January 1st – 31st, 2023: Yeovil Innovation Centre, Barracks Close, Copse Road, Yeovil, Somerset, BA22 8RN
- TBC 2023: Sherborne
- May 22nd – 20th June, 2023: Shire Hall Museum, High West Street, Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 1UY
If you would like to host the display in Dorset or Somerset please contact Jane Askew at .
This travelling exhibition is funded by the ESRC project Intergroup Dynamics within the 1831 reform riots led by the University of West of England.
Please take part in our online survey What do you know about crowds and riots?