Myself (Gus Hales) and Paul Rogers of VFP Birmingham arrived amid early morning sunshine in the picturesque chocolate box Cotswold market village of Burford. The crowds hadn’t arrived yet, so there were no visible signs of the days events. We both headed into the parish church yard where the execution of the three Parliamentarian soldier Levellers took place some 260 years before.
We visited the memorial plaque to the three dissenters shot for standing up to the brutal tyranny of Oliver Cromwell, following the Parliamentary forces victory during the English Civil War. The crowds quickly gathered and we were soon listening to the Green Sea singers and their songs of protest. Banners and flags from every group imaginable concerning civil rights were on display. The Vicar gave his address and before we knew it the procession was off on its one mile route to the recreation ground for the days formal events. There were period costumes, Morris dancers, Musicians and Pike men, all in this good humoured and jovial pageant. The countless people who thanked us for coming was humbling to say the least.
At the showground a series of lectures took place in the site marque, whilst period folk music and dancing seemed to break out spontaneously. At the same time one of the festival organisers made a beeline for us, and informed us that she was made up that we were there and sincerely asked if we could run a stall at next years event. To my surprise I met some long lost friends from Birmingham, Oxford, Abingdon and Rugby. This was an amazing day, packed with fun, good humour and, light heartedness, but tempered with the importance and affirmation of just what the Levellers stood for. This was our first visit to Levellers day, but we both agreed that this would be the beginning of many visits and that we would definitely run a stall next year. To any VFP member or supporter reading this post, please stick this event in your diary, you will not regret it and you will not be disappointed, a great atmosphere a wonderful part of the country and I am assured that the weather is always sunny on Levellers Day. This was an amazing event in the spirit of what Veterans for Peace stands for, and we felt deeply connected to the historical but apposite stand that the 300 levellers stood for all those years ago. A truly humbling and enlightening experience.
Peace and happiness to all.