PUTNEY church felt overwhelmed on Saturday morning. The public consultation for a local development shared the building with a parish retreat and both were provided with the vigorous background musical accompaniment of a Zumba dance class. It’s a building familiar with contention, however; in 1647 representatives of the New Model Army made radical proposals for the future constitution of England here. Amazingly, we can still read parts of the debate verbatim, thanks to a team of stenographers led by William Clarke.
One exchange particularly resonated with the current state of our family life. A certain Col Rainsborough demanded suffrage for all men on the grounds that ‘the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he’. Henry Ireton disagreed and urged restricted suffrage: ‘No person hath a right to an interest or share in the disposing of the affairs of the kingdom, and in determining or choosing those that shall determine what laws we shall be ruled by here… that hath not a permanent fixed interest in this kingdom.’ The children presently take the Colonel’s part in almost every discussion about our activities. I’m increasingly persuaded of the sense of Ireton, but with the full knowledge that—in time—i’ll lose the argument. JG