Festival commemorates 17th century peace protestors

 Peace groups from all denominations will be converging on a sleepy Oxford village this Saturday, to remember three men who died rather than go to war, more than 300 years ago. Hundreds are expected to gather at the day-long festival in Burford, where the leaders of the Levellers - a group who refused to take part in Oliver Cromwell's conquest of Ireland - were shot. After being pursued across the country for several weeks, on 19 May 1649, according to contemporary accounts, around 400 Levellers were rounded up in the village church of St John the Baptist, and forced to climb on the roof to look on, while the men were executed in the churchyard below. During the morning, there will speeches and a debate. Veteran peace campaigner Tony Benn, who recently retired from the House of Commons, will cut a Christian CND cake, marking the anniversary of the signing of the latest nuclear non-proliferation treaty. In the afternoon, there will be a procession and wreath-laying ceremony in the churchyard, followed by a concert on the green with music from Robb Johnson, the Bravo Steel band and Freid Zinger.

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