Legal Tyranny: Conscientious Objection in the Three Towns 1853-1914

Devonport Guildhall, Ker Street


Saturday 05 May 2018 – Saturday 02 June 2018
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat, 9am-3pm

As part of the 2018 Plymouth History Festival, come and visit this free interactive exhibition curated by staff and students from the University’s School of Law, Criminology and Government and listen to public talks on the theme of social policy initiatives, state intervention and personal choice. 

This historical case study will focus on local reactions in the Three Towns to laws compelling parents to have their infants vaccinated against smallpox before the age of six months. If you were poor the health implications of vaccination could be dangerous and even fatal.

Participants and audiences of the exhibition will be invited to consider the personal moral choices they would make when presented with real life historic dilemmas about their family’s health and wellbeing and the effect their decisions would have on both themselves and their communities.

Questions to consider include:

  • What would it take to make you resist the law? 

  • Would you be a conscientious objector? If so, why? 

  • Would you be willing to be imprisoned for your principles? 

Those who objected to having their children vaccinated created a group of people known as ‘conscientious objectors’.

The presentation will explain how the concept of ‘conscientious objection’ later came to be associated with the Great War and the Military Act 1916. It will also highlight some of the powerful modern echoes with the contemporary resistance from some parents to the MMR vaccine.

The exhibition is open Monday-Saturday, 9am-3pm. Find out more about this interactive exhibition and talks at Plymouth University website here or Devonport Guildhall website by clicking here.

Back to events

Other Events

Gallery in the Cinema: Eglantine

Plymouth Arts Centre, 38 Looe Street, Plymouth

Tuesday 20 March 2018 – Wednesday 28 March 2018

March Exhibition

Artizan Gallery, 7 Lucius Street, Torquay, TG2 5UW

Friday 09 March 2018 – Friday 30 March 2018

Trans-form: Trevor Bell

Peninsula Arts Gallery, Roland Levinksy Building, University of Plymouth, PL4 8AA

Monday 16 April 2018 – Saturday 26 May 2018

Visual Arts South West

Working towards a South West where talented artists thrive, and a resilient and connected visual arts ecology that inspires more engaged and diverse audiences to value and advocate for its work.

Part of the Contemporary Visual Arts Network

Supported by: