The Putney Debates

Putney Debates 1647 Exhibition

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  • In 1647, this church was the forum for the first debates about the nature of democracy in England. It was the first known discussion of democracy in Europe since the ancient Greeks. England was in the throes of a civil war and members of the New Model Army, waiting near London to maintain pressure on Parliament, sat in St Mary’s Church in Putney discussing the nature of the society that they wanted to see emerge from the civil war. They formulated the first known account of a doctrine of male suffrage in Britain.

    It remains part of our heritage, and we have a permanent exhibition about the Putney Debates, funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund.

    For opening times please ring 07841 908 290. Whilst the exhibition is generally open on weekdays and Saturdays, it is important to check when planning your visit, since it is closed for the midday service on Wednesdays and when other occasional pre-booked events are taking place.

    We also have a website relating to our permanent HLF funded exhibition: 


Following the success of the Putney Debates 2017, the Oxford Foundation for Law, Justice and Society published a collected volume of essays to emerge from the Debates, Constitution in Crisis: The New Putney Debates, which is available to buy in bookshops and from us at St Mary’s Church, Putney. Featuring contributions from commentators including A.C. GraylingVernon BogdanorDavid Runciman, Timothy Garton Ash and our previous Team Rector Rev’d Canon Ailsa Newby, the volume brings together 25 prominent intellectuals to grapple with the Brexit conundrum and debate the constitutional crisis at the heart of today’s politics.

The Invisible Revolution

The English revolution of the 17th century is almost invisible in modern London. Historian Dr. Neil Faulkner visits the site of the Putney Debates where revolutionary events took place and uncovers a story that has largely been forgotten by the British establishment.

Click on the link to watch this documentary filmed at St Mary’s Church: