The Brexit Of The Early Victorian Era

It was an issue that divided Britain on rural and urban lines - and one that ultimately caused the split in the Conservative Party. Opposition or support for the Corn Laws was the Brexit of the early Victorian era. 


It was an issue that divided Britain on rural and urban lines - and one that ultimately caused the split in the Conservative Party. Opposition or support for the Corn Laws was the Brexit of the early Victorian era. 

The Corn Laws - referenced by this pearlware plate c.1840 that comes up for sale as part of Sworders’ Homes & Interiors auction on July 2 - were tariffs and other trade restrictions on imported food and grain enforced in Great Britain in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars. The protectionist strategy was designed to keep grain prices high to favour domestic producers although it had the effect of raising the costs of living for urban Britain in particular while lining the pockets and political power of rural landowners.  

The laws became the focus of opposition from the Anti-Corn Law League whose supporters voiced their dissatisfaction through a series of politically charged articles (many of them included in a new magazine The Economist first published in September 1843) and also pottery wares such as this plate that includes the slogan Our Bread Untaxed, Our Commerce Free. 

 

Ultimately the Conservative Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel repealed the laws but only with the support of the Whigs. The opposition from his own party, packed by the land-owning class, was so strong that it caused a huge schism, one that ended with the creation of the Liberal Party in 1859. 

Economic historians see the repeal of the Corn Laws as a decisive shift towards free trade in Britain although it also brought a dependance on imported grain that was the ruin of British agriculture. 

The humble plate that tell this story comes for sale from Betty Powers, a long standing collector from Worcestershire, with an estimate of £30-50.

 

 


 

Recent News

 

The Diverse Female Representations in Old Master Paintings

As the gavel readies to strike at Sworders' upcoming Old Masters, British and European art auction, the canvases tell tales of feminine divinity, sanctity, virtue, elegance, and natural beauty. This collection offers a fascinating journey through the multifaceted representations of women, each portrayal a reflection of societal values and artistic sensibilities of the time.

21 June 2024

John Savident | A Theatrical Life Beyond Coronation Street

Our 26 June Homes and Interiors includes a fine collection of theatrically themed works with a celebrity provenance. They come for sale from the family of the much-loved British actor John Savident (1937-2024) who played the character of Fred Elliot in Coronation Street for 12 years. 

20 June 2024

The Estate of Max Clendinning & Ralph Adron

Sworders Design department is delighted to present the extraordinary collection of Messrs Max Clendinning and Ralph Adron. Throughout their remarkable life together, they were both pivotal contributors to their respective fields of architecture, design and theatre. 

20 June 2024

 


 

Get Sworders News