RED LION SQUARE - the real square

       
 
 
       
 

Located near Holborn and Clerkenwell Road, the square was laid out in 1698 and took its name from a famous local inn. The square is surprisingly tranquil, given its central location. This may be due to the fact that most traffic passes only down one side of the square, leaving visitors to explore an oasis of calm in the central gardens. The Conway Hall, a famous humanist centre, is located on the square. It was established in 1929 by the South Place Ethical Society, and has become a landmark of London's intellectual, political and cultural life.

On a creepier note, the square is also said to be haunted by three famous ghosts from parliament: Oliver Cromwell, Henry Ireton and John Bradshaw. All three were buried at Westminster Abbey in the 17th century. But they were dug up again after the Restoration and put on trial - even though they were already dead! They were found guilty of conspiring to kill King Charles I. Their rotting corpses were dragged to the gallows, where they were hanged and beheaded. Then their remains were thrown into a pit. This pit was on the site now occupied by Red Lion Square. The three ghosts have often been sighted, strolling across the square, plotting their revenge. Visitors are advised not to enter the gardens after dusk unless they have a strong stomach! Only time will tell whether these supernatural events make it into the series!

Events of a grisly nature took place more recently when a demonstration on 15th June 1974 culminated in a tragic death. A public enquiry was held to look into events which "led to a disorder in Red Lion Square" to establish "whether any lesson can be learned for the better maintenance of public order when demonstrations take place". During the course of events, a Warwick University Student, Kevin Gately, met his death.

       
 
 

Fenner Brockway - statue on Red Lion Square

Archibald Fenner Brockway (1888-1988), the journalist and politician, was vocal in his opposition to conscripted military service and acted as a prominent pacifist during the First World War, in which cause he was sent to prison.

In spite of his earlier formidable credentials as a confirmed pacifist Brockway nevertheless supported British participation during the Second World War, believing that the forces of fascism could only be dealt with by force: "I could no longer justify pacifism when there was a fascist threat" he later wrote.

In the late 1950s he was a founder member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

As chairman of the Movement for Colonial Freedom he continued to be politically active in spite of his advancing age. As late as 1980 Brockway served as chairman of the World Disarmament Campaign.

A prolific author Brockway penned four volumes of autobiography. He died in 1988 six months shy of his 100th birthday.

 
 

 

 
 

Bust of Bertrand Russel

Bertrand Russell was a world renown philosopher, writer and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. During World War I his activities as a pacifist resulted in his being fined and in 1916, dismissed from his lectureship and imprisoned for six months in 1918. While in prison he wrote the Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy (1919) and started reading for his work The Analysis of Mind (1921).

In 1954 he made his famous "Man's Peril" broadcast on the BBC, condemning the Bikini H-bomb tests. This led to the Russell-Einstein statement of protest by Nobel scientists, to the Pugwash Conferences of scientists from both East and West (Russell was elected president of the first conference in 1957).

In 1958 he bacame president of the newly launched the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament from which he resigned in 1960 and formed the more militant Committee of 100 which he went on to lead in campaigns of civil disobedience in protest at Britain's atomic weapons. He led mass sit-ins in 1961 that brought him a two-month prison sentence, which was reduced to seven days on health grounds. (1872-1970)

       
  BACK