5 Fleet Place on Farringdon Road EC4, close to the junction with Fleet Street, is a nondescript 130,500 sq. ft office block built by British Land in 2007. It has been the HQ of International law firm, Charles Russell Speechlys ever since.


I was there to see the plaque to a truly monumental event (bottom photo) but was excited to find not 1 but 2 very interesting commemorative signs on the front of the building (actually, there are 3 signs but the third is not that interesting!):


The stone (top picture) refers to an event known as the Great Ejection! In 1662 an estimated 2500 Puritan ministers were forced out of their positions in the Church of England, following the Restoration  of Charles II. The Act of Uniformity which was passed that year prescribed the form of public prayers etc. in England and effectively stated that any minister who did not follow its stipulations should be ejected from the Church.


The Great Ejection created the abiding concept of Non-conformity. The Congregational Memorial Hall (on the same site as 5 Fleet Place)  was built in 1862 to commemorate the bicentennial of the Great Ejection.


In 1899, a Doncaster member of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, Thomas R. Steels, moved a motion that called on the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to bring together organisations to form a single body to sponsor parliamentary candidates. As a result, the Labour Party was established in the form of The Labour Representation Committee (LRC), when 129 delegates from the Independent Labour Party (ILP), the Social Democratic Federation, the Fabian Society and unions representing less than half of the TUC convened at the Congregational Memorial Hall on 27//28 February 1900. They accepted a motion to ‘support a distinct Labour Group in Parliament’.


In the election of October that year, 2 LRC sponsored candidates were elected as MP’s, Richard Bell - Derby and Keir Hardie (previously an MP with the ILP) – Merthyr Tydfil. Curiously, Bell happened to be born in Merthyr Tydfil whereas Hardie hailed from Lanarkshire in Scotland. Bell defected to the Liberal Party in 1904, which explains why Keir Hardie is known as the 1st Labour politician.



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