Marking the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre

A print depicting the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester.

To mark 200 years since the Peterloo Massacre, we're looking at the connections between our places and the rights and beliefs we hold dear today.

Why was the Peterloo Massacre important?

On the 16th of August 1819 thousands of pro-democracy and anti-poverty protesters gathered in St Peter’s Field in Manchester. A cavalry charge to disperse the crowd left an estimated 18 people dead and nearly 700 injured. The massacre was a turning point in our democracy, leading directly to the founding of the Manchester Guardian newspaper and becoming a catalyst for Chartism and other workers' rights movements. 

Two National Trust places, Quarry Bank and Dunham Massey, have connections to this event and this year you can discover more about their stories.

Portrait of Samuel Greg who founded Quarry Bank

Quarry Bank and Peterloo

Samuel Greg, founder of Quarry Bank, a cotton mill 12 miles from central Manchester, and his son, Robert Hyde Greg saw the clash from close quarters. They opposed the subsequent ‘cover-up’ of the massacre and Robert later gave testimony criticising the establishment’s response.

George Harry Grey, 6th Earl of Stamford & Warrington

Dunham Massey and Peterloo

George Harry Grey, 6th Earl of Stamford & Warrington was the owner of Dunham Massey, near Altrincham, now part of Greater Manchester. He was the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire and head of that county’s magistrates and militia at the time of the massacre, but he wasn’t there on the day.

'Glorious Phantoms' at Quarry Bank and Dunham Massey

From Saturday 13 July, discover two new contemporary art films at Quarry Bank and Dunham Massey, inspired by Peterloo, protest and the power to create change. The new art commissions have been created by artist family Grace Surman, Gary Winters and their children Hope and Merrick in response to the connections these places have with the Peterloo Massacre.

The contemporary art videos are part of Peterloo 2019, a special commemoration project being led by Manchester Histories and the People’s History Museum

These commissions are supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and with additional support from Art Fund.

Other ways to find out about Peterloo