A new exhibition focusing on the Glorious Revolution has been opened to the public at the Museum of Orange Heritage, Schomberg House, Belfast, on Wednesday, 3rd of May.
Entitled “Liberty”, the exhibition examines the events of the Glorious Revolution and the legacy this had for freedom and constitutional reform in the British Isles and further afield.
The exhibition was formally opened by the Deputy Grand Master Most Wor. Bro. Harold Henning.
Speaking at the launch, Curator of the Museum of Orange Heritage, Dr. Jonathan Mattison described the period between 1688-1691 as one of the most profound and important in influencing the political landscape of the British Isles.
He said: “This was a watershed moment that delivered on the building politicisation of ordinary people during the Seventeenth century and ushered in Constitutional Settlement that resulted in limited Monarchy, freedom of the individual, free and just trials, freedom of the press, religious toleration, and representative government.
“In tandem with these changes was a resetting of the balance of power between Monarch and Parliament – no longer could a single King or Queen dominate the political, religious and economic affairs of the country without significant input from the people, in the form of a regularly elected parliament.
“These changes may not appear ground-breaking from the standpoint of our liberal democratic society today, but in the context of that period, they were truly revolutionary.”
Dr. Mattison went on to explain that at the centre of all these changes were William, Prince of Orange, and his wife Mary Stuart – created Joint Sovereigns, the only time in our history when there has been such.
He continued: “Without them, the Revolution would not have happened, nor succeeded. William brought an energy to events driven by the geopolitical landscape of Europe. He employed a knowledge of politics, utilised the press to win a propaganda war and endorsed the new proposed changes, even before he set foot on the British Isles.”
Grand Secretary Rev. Mervyn Gibson, who chairs the Museum of Orange Heritage Board, confirmed the opening of the exhibition would lead to other events in the months ahead.
“Today we are not only launching an exhibition, but announcing our intent to provide a programme of events and information that will complement this exhibition and the understanding of Rights in the context of today’s world,” he explained.
“No Surrender was a cry for liberty that echoed around the walls of Derry in 1689. It and other battles – not least the Battle of the Boyne - secured the Glorious Revolution.
“The civil and religious freedoms won during the Glorious Revolution are the basis on which many societies today are founded.
“Civil and religious liberty for all - means all. We as a community have nothing to fear from Human Rights and Civil Rights. We seek no special privileges or special rights, just a balanced approach.”
Reflecting on the link between the Glorious Revolution and the Orange Institution, The Rev. Gibson added: “What we celebrate on the Twelfth of July is freedom brought about by civil and religious liberties for all. As an Institution, we need to re-emphasis that truth, both internally and externally.”
The Museum of Orange Heritage is open from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday. Last entry to the galleries is 4pm. Admission is free of charge.
To find out more about the Liberty exhibition or to arrange a group visit please call 028 90 70 1122.