Come and witness an extraordinary event.
In September 1670 the Quakers William Penn and William Mead stood trial at the Old Bailey for unlawful assembly.
Friends had been locked out of their meeting house in Gracechurch Street and had met for worship in the street outside. Penn and Mead were arrested.
The editing of the original trial has been minimal. The astonishing intimidation from the Bench remains, together with the magnificent and dramatic speeches of Penn under attack. The jury refused to bring in a verdict of guilty, despite bullying from the judge. The case established the principle of jury independence.
The Government was interested in the result of this trial: it had a political dimension. And down there were twelve of the bravest people ever to sit on a jury. All the excitement that followed the restoration of a Stuart king had largely disappeared. Once again religious observance had been shackled by statute.
And of all minority groups none were more persecuted than the Quakers – and no Quaker was more articulate than 26-year-old William Penn.
For this staged reading of the trial the roles will be taken by professional actors.
This will be followed by a discussion led by Robert McCracken QC, a member of Westminster Meeting.