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In 1839 Llanidloes became well known all over the country as one of the centres of a growing revolutionary movement among working people. This was called Chartism and it came about because ordinary people were very badly treated and were not allowed to vote in order to improve their lives.

Only the wealthier people who owned property had a vote, and the whole political system was operated to favour the rich and powerful.

The members of the protest group, which started in London, were called Chartists after a charter of six demands to the government to change things for the better. The main demand was for votes for all men (the Suffragettes were to demand votes for women some years later) and not just for the rich. They also wanted a wider choice of future MP's, since only the owners of property could become an MP at the time. This meant that the owners of the big houses, estates and factories and the local wealthy farmers held all the power and could vote to make sure that things stayed that way!

But the workers were starting to rebel against the system...

As well as not being allowed to vote, there were many other reasons for the ordinary workers to rise up against the ruling class in the 1830's. A new law of 1834, just three years before Queen Victoria was crowned, brought in very harsh treatment of the poor and set up the terrible workhouse system.


 

The local flannel-making industry was in trouble, and new machinery had put many of the poorest people out of work. A government run by landowners kept the price of corn high by passing the Corn Laws, which increased the cost of bread. It was a very bad time to be poor, as the whole system helped the rich to stay rich and the poor to stay poor.

The situation led to outbreaks of violence in many areas, with unrest in industrial towns and the burning of ricks in country districts. This was the time of the famous Tolpuddle Martyrs who were transported in 1834 for protesting about the unfair system.

The inside of the building was wrecked but the authorities, scared of losing their power, claimed that there was a serious armed revolution going on. Most of the Chartist supporters only had sticks and fists to fight with, but the Lord Lieutenant at Powis Castle was asked to send in the army to get control of the town. So hundreds of armed soldiers were on the way to put the poor workers back in their proper place, and to force them to do as they were told by their "betters"...

Shortly afterwards the mob stormed the hotel and released their fellow Chartists.

The interior of the hotel was wrecked, one of the London policemen was severely beaten, and the other two managed to escape and hide, fearing for their lives.

It is widely believed that Marsh himself started the riot either to enable him to escape from the angry crowd or to deliberately discredit the Chartists.

The authorities seem to have greatly exaggerated the scale of the disorder in Llanidloes with reports of very large numbers of armed Chartists, and called upon the Lord Lieutenant at Powis Castle for immediate assistance to control the situation.

A little bit of history surrounding our beautiful Grade II listed Georgian Building

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