This special Evensong celebrates the history of the House of Commons and those who made a significant impact on the journey to rights and representation. In particular it marks the 750th anniversary of the Parliament summoned by Simon De Montfort, which met from 20 January to mid-March 1265 in the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey.
Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, was a French noble who came to England in the 1230s and received lands from King Henry III. Simon controversially married the king’s sister, without permission, at a time when marriages of the aristocracy were strictly controlled by the king. Henry III, however, accepted the marriage and Simon became one of the king’s main advisers.
In 1258, the barons of England (including Montfort) fed up with the way Henry III had been governing England, forced him to agree to a set of reforms called the Provisions of Oxford. When the king regained power in 1261 he cancelled these reforms. Most of the barons accepted this but Montfort did not. He captured the king at the Battle of Lewes in 1264 and took over the country himself, reintroducing the Provisions of Oxford and calling parliaments.
Montfort’s parliament of 1265 was the first time that representatives of both towns and shires were summoned simultaneously to discuss matters of national concern, something which ultimately paved the way for the emergence of the House of Commons.
Everyone is welcome and seats need to be taken by 4.45pm.