Object Walk: 1887 'Bloody Sunday' Bludgeon

Photos: Fabrice Gagos
Tuesday 04 August 2020
reading time: min, words

We’ve teamed up with the National Justice Museum to put objects from the past into the hands of people of the present. This month, we took a bludgeon used during the 1887 Trafalgar Square protestsalso known as Bloody Sunday to Josh Osoro Pickering of the Nottingham Castle Trust.


The events took place on 13 November 1887, when marchers protesting about unemployment and coercion in Ireland clashed with Metropolitan Police and the British Army, ending in three deaths and a further 150 people being hospitalised. The bludgeon, which was used by the protestors, was presumably seized by the police, as the plaque inscription reads:

“Presented… The Irish Civil Police. For future use to squelch all malcontents who dare to hold meetings and thus bore us with their famine and other grievances”


"I guess this was the original Bloody Sunday event. If they had lead pipes and weapons like this, it sounds like it would have been a brutal event. It’s a lot heavier than I expected it to be."


"It’s weird, isn't it? It’s almost phallic – this dominating, masculine tool. It’s very primitive too – the classic image we have of people from the beginning of time involves them holding clubs like this."


"There’s weariness with holding what could be deemed a deadly weapon which, as a young man growing up and dealing with the police, I always knew never to do. I guess I’m instinctively looking for the cops…"


"I actually feel quite moved by it, especially because you still see weapons being used against protestors  today. The inscription is unapologetically horrible – it’s been taken from the people to use against them."

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