Life of Freeborn John Lilburne

When: 19th October - 24th October 2015 Location: Various

Today we got confirmation that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us a grant to perform a workshop based on the life of Freeborn John Lilburne and his wife Elizabeth in 12 locations from the 19th October – 24th October 2015. Freeborn or Honest John as he was known was born in Sunderland in 1615 and was a fighter for the freedom and voting rights of the common man and an end to government and church corruption.

Lilburne was a war hero, being twice wounded and decorated during the English Civil War fighting for Cromwell. During his short life he was imprisoned and threatened with execution on numerous occasions. He was also exiled then imprisoned by Cromwell for insisting that the new Parliament was just as corrupt as the Royalist one had been.

He is rather better known in the USA where his pamphlets and speeches were studied by Thomas Jefferson to produce the American Constitution and their Bill of Rights. His ideas and works also inspired the USA Supreme Court in the 1960’s to formulate the ‘Miranda’ rule – often heard in American movies and TV Cop shows when a suspect has to be ‘read their rights to remain silent’ and have access to a legal representative.

Elizabeth Lilburne became a pioneer of women’s suffrage, inspired by John’s sacrifices and ideas she lead several protest marches of 1,000’s of women to the Houses of Parliament where they were dispersed by armed troops. She kept John alive in the various prisons by smuggling in food and drink – and writing materials – so he could survive and keep up his own protests through banned pamphlets.

The sessions in October will have actors performing key dramatic scenes from their lives broken up by discussions on the freedom of speech and voting rights we enjoy today. The actors will stay in character and answer questions from the audience while Ken and Val act as Facilitators. We will tour 10 schools and colleges and hold a day of sessions at Bede’s World Museum in Jarrow. Times and actual dates later.


21 September

We have a few places left for any secondary schools or further education colleges who would like us to bring this amazing story to their students.  The workshops consist of three 10 minute scenes from Lilburne’s life, facilitation sessions take place after each scene to discuss the issues raised and answer questions about Lilburne, Magna Carta, Democracy and the times.  The questions will be answered by the professional actors still in character or two facilitators.  If you are interested just ring Val 07963493846 or email for more information.