A WINCHESTER woman is campaigning for a better plaque to remember a Stuart-era gentlewoman.

Sylvia Knight, 68, has led calls to install a more visible plaque at the site where Alice Lisle was executed in 1685.

There is an engraving on the side of the City Museum, in The Square, which reads: “Site of Old Market House. Place of Execution of Lady Lisle. 1685. In the roadway.”

Ms Knight, from St Cross, wants a blue plaque to make it more visible. She said: “That plaque is clearly not good enough. I want a blue plaque which I am campaigning for. I have contacted English Heritage and they are quite interested. It's quite expensive, £965, who cares about the money?”

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Alice Lisle, a woman born into a wealthy noble family in 1617, was executed for giving refuge to a couple of men, including a nonconformist chaplain, wanted by authorities. They were being sought in connection with a recently defeated uprising led by the Duke of Monmouth against King James I.

Hampshire Chronicle: The current plaque on the City Museum in The Square

Her execution proved controversial, as Lord Chief Justice George Jeffreys likely pressured the jury into a guilty vote in order to make an example of Lady Lisle, who was 70. Though she was granted an execution by beheading (rather than being burnt at the stake) due to her social status, it was still a shocking chapter in Jeffreys' retributory 'Bloody Assizes' trials against the rebels in 1685.

Ms Knight first read about Alice Lisle, a woman whom she described as “magnificent”, “brave-spirited” and “broad-minded” and is disappointed that a more visible commemoration of her life has not been created. 

Cllr John Tippett-Cooper, who chairs the heritage group on Winchester Town Forum, said: “The history surrounding the life, trial and execution of Alice Lisle is a fascinating piece of Winchester’s history. I’d be very keen to explore the possibilities of raising awareness of this history as Ms Knight proposes.”

Additional reporting by Oliver Miners.