Monday, 28 November 2011

Assassination of the Prime Minister

Not at all sure that this is industrial history  - but anyway - the Woolwich Antiquarian's Newsletter is reminding us that 2012 is important as the bicentennial of the Assassination of Spencer Percival, Prime Minister, who is buried in St.Luke's Church, Charlton.

Spencer Perceval is the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated while in office. He was shot dead on 11 May 1812 in the lobby of the House of Commons by John Bellingham.  Bellingham was a business man who blamed him for some failings in government compensation incurred in Russia. Bellingham had worked in Russia for some years and had just returned to England a day or so before - and went to carry out this murder before he had even travelled to be reunited with his family. He was tried and executed within a couple of days.

A detailed account of all this can be found in Mollie Gillen's book "Assassination of the Prime Minister. The Shocking Death of Spencer Percival" (Sidgewick and Jackson 1972)

Percival seems to have been buried in St.Luke's through his wife who was a member of the Maryon -Wilson family of Charlton House and Percival is in the family vault. There is also a bust of him in the church.

We understand that St Luke's is planning to mark the bicentenary with a civic service in May next year to be followed with pageant in Charlton Park (and we wait to see what that will involve) 

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