‘Dirty, Rotten Boroughs’ delves into the Great Reform Act of 1832 and how it affected Cornwall. The new exhibition developed out of a research module exploring Cornish Political History in the nineteenth century and a collaboration with Newquay Heritage Archive and Museum and the Cornwall Museums Services.
The Second Year degree students’ research investigated a variety of different Cornish towns to see just how much Cornwall’s political constituencies changed in the 1832 General Election.
Students were also interested in finding out how Cornish people reacted to the Westminster reforms pushed through by the Whig Party and their Prime Minister Earl Grey in face of fierce opposition from the Tory Party.
Reaction was certainly mixed and contemporary reports from both the West Briton and the Royal Cornwall Gazette demonstrate that similar heated debate existed over political reforms in the past as we are witnessing today in our post-Brexit politics.
Tutor Marilla Walker said: “We hope that in the build up to the snap General Election people will come and view the exhibition to see how the franchise was extended in Cornwall and learn how issues such as ‘rotten boroughs’ providing unfair representation for wealthy patrons were addressed. 1832, although limited in scope, finally put the country on the road to much needed parliamentary reform and perhaps we should remember this long struggle the next time we complain about heading to the polls again on June 8th.”
The exhibition will run at Newquay Heritage Archive and Museum until the end of August.
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