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Following David Warburton's EDM (see below), 4 Labour MPs have tabled a further Early Day Motion on the same subject, except that they have used the anniversary to cite Bagehot's book in support of Brexit.  This is further confirmation of the continuing topicality and relevance of Bagehot's writings to current government and politics. 

However, it is a pity that the text of their motion gets Bagehot's classic terminology wrong - it's 'efficient' and 'dignified', not 'effective' and 'decorative' - as in these extracts from The English Constitution:

In such constitutions there are two parts (not indeed separable with microscopic accuracy, for the genius of great affairs abhors nicety of division): first, those which excite and preserve the reverence of the population—the dignified parts, if I may so call them, and next, the efficient parts—those by which it, in fact, works and rules. ... The dignified parts of Government are those which bring it force—which attract its motive power. The efficient parts only employ that power.

Early day motion 322


That this House celebrates the 150th anniversary in 2017 of the publication of the English Constitution, written by Walter Bagehot; recalls that he cleverly distinguished the effective parts of a constitution from the decorative parts; recognises that this still has a powerful resonance in the modern world; and believes that the nations of Europe, including Britain, should seek to ensure that the effectiveness of their national parliaments is restored and secured for the future and that parliaments do not become mere constitutional decoration in the face of the continuing encroachment of the EU on parliamentary democracy.




Langport's local MP, David Warburton (Somerton & Frome), along with a colleague, Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West), has tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons celebrating the 150th anniversary of the publication of Walter Bagehot's classic The English Constitution:

Early day motion 317


That this House celebrates the 150th anniversary this year of the publication of The English Constitution, written by Walter Bagehot of Langport, Somerset, whose great facility in explaining the practical workings of the contemporary and historic British political system, its Parliament, Government and Monarchy, has ensured that this classic text remains both relevant and highly influential to this day.

As Chair of the Bagehot Memorial Fund, based in Bagehot's home town of Langport, Somerset, I mentioned the 150th anniversary to David Warburton MP, who was delighted to table a motion in the House so that Parliament has the opportunity to mark this seminal work which has such a continuing influence on its operation.

The small town of Langport in Somerset is proud that one of its most famous residents has, through his editorship of The Economist and in other writings, made such an enormous contribution to the understanding of government, politics and the constitution, as well as to banking and finance and other important areas.

Barry K Winetrobe
Bagehot Memorial Fund


14 FEBRUARY 2017


A new article has been uploaded, on the stone plaque to Walter Bagehot unveiled in 1916 above the door of Bank House (now Bank Chambers), in Cheapside, Langport.  This article replaces the original brief piece on this plaque, and provides a fascinating insight into Bagehot's fame and influence well beyond Langport a century ago.  Read it here.


19 NOVEMBER 2016


Chair of the Bagehot Memorial Fund, Barry Winetrobe, was on BBC Radio Somerset on Saturday 19 November 2016, on the Charlie Taylor morning show, talking about the importance of Langport's most illustrious citizen, Walter Bagehot.  He discussed Bagehot's links with the renowned Stuckey's Bank, which started in Langport and grew into one of the most important provincial banking groups of the 19th Century, and described Walter's portable writing case.  This artefact is a prized possession in the Fund's collection of Bagehotiana, and was, as Barry described it in the segment, Walter's laptop or tablet, the invaluable business aid for a regular Victorian rail commuter like Bagehot.  Barry also explained the Fund's plans to erect an illustrated Interpretation Board next to the Nat West Bank in Langport, which is the site of the former Stuckey's Bank HQ.  He appealed on behalf of the Fund for any artefacts, images, documents or anecdotes about Stuckey's Bank, whether in Langport, the wider West Country or beyond, for possible inclusion on the Board (see story below).

You can hear this segment at, which also has a nice image of the writing case.

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19 NOVEMBER 2016




The Bagehot Memorial Fund is asking for any memories, photos, documents or other artefacts of the famous Stuckey’s Banking Company for its proposed new Interpretation Board in the centre of Langport in Somerset.


Having already produced an impressive illustrated Interpretation Board on Walter Bagehot, which is in Langport’s Walter Bagehot Town Garden, the Fund is preparing a companion Board, which will focus on Bagehot’s career as a country banker with Stuckey’s Bank, as well as on the history of what was, in its day, one of the most important provincial banking groups in the UK, having originated in Langport.


Barry Winetrobe, who chairs the Fund, said: “Our main objective is to commemorate the life, work and legacy of Langport’s most famous citizen, Walter Bagehot, the highly influential Victorian writer, journalist and long-time editor of The Economist. It was Bagehot’s work as a banker for Stuckey’s in Langport, Bristol and London which gave him the practical experience and knowledge that enabled him to be the hugely influential writer on banking and finance he remains to this day.


He continued: “Our proposed Interpretation Board will describe the Bagehot family’s close involvement in Stuckey’s Bank from its humble origins in Langport.  Walter’s father ran the Langport branch itself, which for many years was the headquarters of the whole banking group.  Walter himself was born in the living quarters above the Bank in what is now Bank Chambers.  His uncle, Vincent Stuckey, was the key driving force of the Bank’s growth and success, and he was a very influential adviser on banking to Parliament and Government, being described as ‘undoubtedly one of the leading country bankers of his day’.  Walter himself dealt with the banking needs of important local companies such as Clark’s Shoes of Street.


The Board will be erected on the wall of the current NatWest Bank in Langport, which is the present-day successor of Stuckey’s Bank, with the kind permission of RBS NatWest.  Stuckey’s remained independent until 1909, when it was amalgamated with Parr’s Bank, and, through subsequent mergers and takeovers, became part of what is now Nat West Bank in the RBS Group.


Barry said: “To ensure that the Board is as informative and engaging as possible, we are asking everyone for anything they may have about Stuckey’s Bank.  This may be photos of the exteriors or interiors of its many branches in Somerset and throughout the West Country; customer banking documents, cheques or banknotes, or perhaps old family records or memories of employees of the Bank.  We will give full credit for anything we use on the Board itself, and carefully look after and return any items loaned to us for this project.


Janet Seaton, Chair of the Langport & District History Society, and a member of the Fund’s Steering Committee, said: “Between them, the Stuckey and Bagehot families made Langport a prosperous trading centre. The growth and development of Stuckey’s Bank built on that success to make Langport the centre of country banking, giving the town an influence far beyond the West Country.


The Fund can be contacted in various ways including email and social media as well as by phone or letter – contact details are in the Notes below.



Further information:

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19 JUNE 2016


The Bagehot Memorial Fund regret to announce that the forthcoming Bagehot Debate, due to be held on Saturday 25 June at Huish Sixth Hall, has had to be cancelled.  We apologise to all those who were planning to attend. 

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Link here.

24 FEBRUARY 2015


The Langport community is being invited to submit questions to all the candidates for Somerton & Frome at the Langport Hustings on Tuesday 24 March at Huish Episcopi Academy.  Forms are available for various offices and shops in the Langport area, as well as online here.  HURRY!  The deadline for receipt of submitted questions is noon on Thursday 19 March.  So don't delay, and ask away!

The Langport Hustings is organised by the Bagehot Memorial Fund, with the support of Langport Town Council, Langport Leveller newspaper and Langport Area Business Group.

12 JANUARY 2015


Even when just a young man, Bagehot had an acute journalistic sense, and could pen arresting thoughts and phrases.  When visiting Paris just after  Louis Napoleon's coup d'état in December 1851, he wrote a serious of letters on the situation in France which were published in a British magazine.  In his third letter, dated 20 January 1852, he wrote about the essential quality of 'stupidity' for a free people: what we opprobriously call stupidity, though not an enlivening quality in common society, is Nature’s favourite resource for preserving steadiness of conduct and consistency of opinion." For the fuller quote, see here.

7 JANUARY 2015


In his classic work, The English Constitution (1867), Bagehot wrote about Magna Carta in the context of his view of the history and development of English constitutional law and practice.  He described it as:

"a great mixture of old and new; it was a sort of compact defining what was doubtful in floating custom  ..  In truth, such great “charters” were rather treaties between different orders and factions, confirming ancient rights, or what claimed to be such, than laws in our ordinary sense. They were the “deeds of arrangement” of mediæval society affirmed and re-affirmed from time to time, and the principal controversy was, of course, between the king and nation—the king trying to see how far the nation would let him go, and the nation murmuring and recalcitrating, and seeing how many acts of administration they could prevent, and how many of its claims they could resist.

For the full quote, see here, in the Bagehot Debate section.  The 2015 Bagehot Debate is, appropriately, on the theme of a new Magna Carta, and will be debated, even more appropriately, by two Barons.

24 December 2014


Young Walter studied for the bar in London, but did not always relish the life of a barrister.  “This strikes me more and more in law, that its difficulties are mainly difficulties of quantity," he wrote in a letter to his father in December 1848].  For the full quote, see here.

23 December 2014


 "My best idea of a holiday is half a dozen letters daily" So wrote Walter Bagehot in an 1862 letter.  See more here

16 December 2014


As usual, Walter had le mot juste when considering reforms of the banking system: “'Putting new wine into old bottles' is safe only when you watch the condition of the bottle, and adapt its structure most carefully.”  [Lombard Street, 1873] - see more here

11 December 2014

Bagehot Debate 2015: Two Barons to debate new Magna Carta

 In the 800th anniversary year of Magna Carta, the need for a new Magna Carta will be debated, appropriately, by two current Barons, Lord (Paul) Tyler and Lord (Philip) Norton.  They will be partnered by two star debaters from Huish Academy.  The Debate will be held on Saturday 6th June at Huish Episcopi Academy as part of the annual Langport Festival. More details will appear on the 'Bagehot Debate' section of this website.

5 December 2014

The Bagehot Memorial Fund is to run General Election Hustings in Langport for the marginal seat of Somerton & Frome on Tuesday 24 March at Huish Episcopi Academy.  All five candidates thus far declared as intending to stand at the 7 May general election have agreed to take part.  More details will appear on the 'HUSTINGS' section of this website.

19 April 2014

New Langport Information leaflet features Bagehot

Read about Langport Town Council's new tourist information leaflet, which contains much of interest to fans of Walter Bagehot.  Read it in the new 'Langport Info' section of this website- and then come and visit Langport!

8 April 2014

Get ready for the third Bagehot Debate!

Details have been announced of the third annual Bagehot Memorial Debate, sponsored by the Bagehot Memorial Fund and fast becoming a flagship event of the yearly Langport Community Festival.  Read more in the Debate section of this website.

5 April 2014

Further steady progress for Bagehot Memorial Fund

Read all about the Fund's activities and plans, discussed at its recent meeting in Langport, Somerset, in the attached press release here.

14 February 2014

Woodrow Wilson - Emilie Barrington correspondence September 1914

A short piece has just been added to the Woodrow Wilson section, 'His greatest fan' about the September 1914 exchange of letters between President Wilson at the White House and Emilie Barrington (Bagehot's sister-in-law and biographer) at Herd's Hill, Langport, regarding the death of Wilson's first wife, Ellen, and also discussing the start of the First World War.  Read 'Letter from America - and Langport' here, near the end of the page.  Feedback always welcome:

10 February 2014


The annual reports, and financial reports for the first two years of the Bagehot Memorial Fund are published today, here.

7 February 2014

New Bagehot Booklet Offer

The Bagehot Memorial Fund is now selling the new reprint of the 1996 classic pamphlet on the life and work of Walter Bagehot, written by Gordon Lee, a former senior editor at The Economist, A voice of sanity: Walter Bagehot 1826-1877.  Buy your copy, for only £5 (+P&P) now using the Order Form here. 

30 January 2014

Bagehot Memorial Fund: latest activities and future plans

Read all about the Fund's activities and plans, discussed at its meeting today in Langport Somerset, in the attached press release here.

21 January 2014


'Public engagement with Parliament' is said to be an important component for a modern Westminster.  Walter Bagehot put it very well more than a century ago: "The distinguishing quality of Parliamentary government is, that in each stage of a public transaction there is a discussion; that the public assist at this discussion.."  See the full 1872 quote here.

19 January 2014


Bagehot regarded poetry as 'the most surely and wisely elevating of human things'.  Read the rest of this 1864 quote here.

12 January 2014


Walter Bagehot apparently thought that people focus more narrowly on things as they get older, according to this quote from an 1856 article: "Small sciences are the labours of our manhood; but the round universe is the plaything of the boy." Read more here.

20 December 2013



From a letter of December 1856, just before Christmas, it seems that Bagehot, aged 30, was a workaholic, sceptical of holidays if they interfered with career: “As to holidays, it is one of the lessons of life to learn to be independent of them.” Read more here.

29 November 2013

Bagehot Memorial Fund: latest activities and future plans

Read all about the Fund's activities and plans, discussed at its meeting on 28 November in Langport Somerset, in the attached press release here.

24 November 2013


One of the reasons it is said why Walter Bagehot is not more widely known is that people - especially if they have seen his one portrait - saw him as, in Ruth Dudley Edwards' apt words,  "a solemn Victorian worthy who said grave things about the constitution." Yet Walter had his more romantic side, best seen in his billets doux to his future wife, Eliza Wilson.  In one, he wrote, "What nonsense it is about love being blind.  It sees so distinctly..."  For further extracts, see here, in the Walter's Wise Words section.

10 November 2013
Almost a century before the assassination of John F Kennedy in 1963, Bagehot was writing about the killing of Abraham Lincoln in April 1865.  As the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination approaches, Bagehot's words on "a very great and very lamentable event" resonate today, certainly relevant to contemporary reflections on the more recent tragedy.  For extensive extracts of Bagehot's article in The Economist of 29 April 1865, see here.

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About this website

Langport is a small town in Somerset.  Its most famous citizen was the Victorian constitutional and financial writer, Walter Bagehot (1826-1877).   Author of The English constitution (1867), still a standard work on the British government and politics, he was editor of The Economist magazine for sixteen years, and wrote leading works on banking and economics, such as Lombard Street (1873). 
Though Bagehot has maintained a world-wide reputation and relevance, he has been largely neglected in his home town.  Langport believes that it is time to commemorate properly his life and work, so that our town, our country and the world can fully appreciate him.
Walter Bagehot
This website aims to bring together information about Bagehot so that we can celebrate him and his achievements.  Follow us on Twitter - Bagehot Fund: @bagehotlangport - and on our Facebook page.
We welcome any comments, suggestions or further information you may have to improve this website.  You can contact us by emailing

TALKS ON BAGEHOT: Members of the Bagehot Memorial Fund are available to give illustrated talks about Walter Bagehot.  Though based in Somerset, we are happy to talk to groups - local community bodies, history societies, academic classes etc - anywhere.  Proceeds go to support the activities of the Fund.  For further information email