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The Swing Riots


Threshing by hand.

Swing Riots took their name from the hand flails traditionally used to thresh grain.  The threshing process had been progressively mechanised since the 1770s: distinctive wheel houses were built in which horses pulled great overhead crown wheels providing power to the threshing machinery situated in the barn.

Horse-driven threshing machine

Farm labourers protested against the introduction of all machinery which did their work more cheaply and deprived them of jobs. The Swing Riots came perilously close to East Meon; in November 1830, East Meon landowner John Bonham Carter JP received a frantic letter from a fellow magistrate confronting riots in nearby Headley and Selborne, asking for reinforcements from Petersfield. Another letter, from the Keeper of Winchester County Gaol, asked him not to send any more prisoners: ‘there being already 53 in custody and in the course of an hour I expect 50 more’. The climate into which Kemp was increasing tithes was combustible.

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