Sir: In cancelling Christmas (Diary, 31 October), the postgraduates of Newnham may not be aware of what they could be stirring.
In 1647, the Mayor of Canterbury, acting on a parliamentary decree, ordered that "Christmas Day and all other superstitious festivals should be put down" and that shops and markets should stay open. The 12 shops that did open were entered forcibly and their goods destroyed by Royalist supporters. Intense fighting followed for several days in this politically divided city; barriers were erected and the Mayor, Sheriff and other citizens were assaulted.
Repercussions continued into the following year, and triggered off the trial of the "Keep Christmas Special" supporters. The serious rebellion which arose in Kent had to be put down by a large parliamentary army, led by General Fairfax. The gaps in the city wall caused by the ensuing battle can still be seen to this day.
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