Remembering the Riots with Ely Courthouse and Museum re-enactments

Littleport and Ely Riots Remembering the Riots. Reenactment of the trials faced by the rioters at El

Littleport and Ely Riots Remembering the Riots. Reenactment of the trials faced by the rioters at Ely Courthouse. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Crowds gathered at Ely Courthouse on Saturday to ‘remember the Riots’ which happened 200 years ago in Littleport and Ely.

Littleport and Ely Riots Remembering the Riots. Reenactment of the trials faced by the rioters at El

Littleport and Ely Riots Remembering the Riots. Reenactment of the trials faced by the rioters at Ely Courthouse. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Wealthy residents, rioters and prisoners alike filed in to court on Saturday to take part in a re-enactment of the trials faced by the rioters.

After the re-enactment, people made their way to Ely Museum to meet condemned rioter John Dennis in his cell at the Old Gaol before being hung.

What happened during the Littleport and Ely Riots?

Over two days between May 22 and 24 in the year 1816, an event took place which has become part of history around the Fenland area.


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The Littleport and Ely Riots were caused by local high unemployment and rising grain costs.

On May 22 a group of Littleport locals were drinking heavily in The Globe Inn, upon leaving they began to be abusive to the more wealthy people of the parish demanding money from them and destroying their property.

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The abuse then spread along into the small cathedral city of Ely, where the local magistrates tried to calm the drunken protesters by ordering poor relief and a fixed minimum wage.

The following day a militia of the Ely citizens arrested the ringleaders and in the first week of June went on trial.

Twenty-three men and one woman were found guilty and various sentences were handed down; some were even transported never to see their homeland again, but five received the most severe sentence – being hanged.

They were William Beamiss, Isaas Harley, George Crow, Thomas South and John Dennis.

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