In June 1852 Epworth was the location for one of the biggest political riots in British history. The three candidates for the North Lincolnshire seat had agreed to all hold a political address on the same day in Epworth marketplace. Sir Montague Cholmeley the Liberal candidate arrived first with supporters carrying blue banners and ribbons. Supporters of the Right Honourable Robert Christopher and James Banks Stanhope, both Conservative candidates met on Cut Throat-hill, now called Belton Road. Once these candidates arrived in carriages their supporters followed them to the marketplace where the troubles began. The Conservative candidates had brought many supporters from Gainsborough which caused mistrust amongst the locals of the Isle. They also brought 400 supporters on horseback. An unwritten local rule in Epworth states that anyone riding a horse into the marketplace should dismount and walk alongside their horse. As the supporters from Gainsborough did not know this rule, they remained mounted and stood circled behind the supporters on foot. Arriving after the Liberal supporters, the conservative supporters pushed for more space within the marketplace. Violence soon erupted with stones and bottles used as missiles. The wooden platform for the candidates was ripped apart and used by supporters to hit one another. Several people were trampled by horses and a horse was also blinded during the riot. It took several hours for the violence to subside.
Image and text copyright of Isle of Axholme and Hatfield Chase Landscape Partnership.