Canterbury Cathedral has won praise for resisting calls to remove statues with historic links to slavery despite calls by Justin Welby to look at them ‘very carefully.’
The Archbishop of Canterbury last year suggested the monuments should be reviewed to see if they ‘should all be there.’
He made the comments last June, when monuments of controversial figures came under the microscope amid the wave of Black Lives Matter protests.
But following a review, the cathedral has decided that statues connected with ‘slavery, colonialism, or contentious figures’ will be displayed, ‘with clear objective interpretations.’
Canterbury Cathedral (pictured) has won praise for resisting calls to remove statues with historic links to slavery despite calls by Justin Welby to look at them ‘very carefully’
Former Dean of Canterbury, Isaac Bargrave (left), who hailed from a family who ‘cemented their position’ thanks to overseas trade and settlement. Richard Hooker (right), who acted as the mentor for the Anglican clergy of the first English slaveholding colonies.
William Juxon, a former Archbishop of Canterbury who had forged connections to the early English slave trade, includes ‘four black Moors’ heads’ on his coat of arms, was also identified
It said by ‘acknowledging any associated oppression, exploitation, injustice and suffering connected with these objects’ visitors can leave with a ‘greater understanding of our shared history and be inspired to undertake further learning and discussion.’
Memorials to politicians, war heroes and authors all targeted due to links to slavery and racist beliefs
Since Edward Colston’s statue was thrown into Bristol Harbour, there has been a wave of attacks from vandals on various monuments across Britain.
A statue to Winston Churchill was defaced with the words ‘was a racist’ and ‘f*** your agenda’ written underneath the memorial to the war time PM in Westminster Square, London.
Slave trader Robert Milligan’s was covered with a shord and the message ‘Black Lives Matter’ was placed on it in West India Docks amid calls for it to be taken down. It was later removed by Tower Hamlets Council.
Less than a year after it was erected, ‘Nazi’ was scrawled underneath a statue of Nancy Astor, the first woman to take a seat in Parliament, in Plymouth.
A monument to 19th-century politician Henry Vassall-Fox, the third Baron Holland, was left splattered with red paint in Holland Park. A cardboard sign reading ‘I owned 401 slaves’ was perched in the bronze statue’s arms, with the number painted on the plinth alongside red handprints.
A Grade II-listed monument to Admiral Lord Nelson, Britain’s foremost naval hero, which stands in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral, was sprayed with a black ‘V’ in the middle of a circle – an anarchist symbol.
Red paint spattered another stature of Lord Nelson at Deptford Town Hall in South London.
In Kent, a former councillor wrote ‘Dickens Racist’ outside a museum dedicated to the beloved 19th century author. Letters sent by the Oliver Twist author showed he wished to ‘exterminate’ Indian citizens after a failed uprising.
A statue of Civil War leader Oliver Cromwell in Wythenshawe Park, Manchester, had the words ‘Cromwell is a cockroach,’ ‘f*** racist’ and the Black Lives Matter acronym ‘BLM’ scrawled across it last month. Thousands of people were massacred during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.
BLM was also scrawled across the Worcester Civil War memorial in Royal Park.
Like many historic buildings across the country, Canterbury Cathedral came under pressure to review its monuments at the height of Black Lives Matters protests last year.
The Archbishop said the statues would ‘need to be put in context’, adding: ‘Some will have to come down, some names will have to change.’
But sources close to the Cathedral have said it is ‘highly unlikely’ any statues will be removed when the results of an internal review are considered later this month.
Instead, it is possible monuments with links to slavery or colonialism will instead have plaques clearly displaying contextual information.
The move is welcomed by University of Kent historian Dr Ben Marsh, who last year identified a number of controversial statues in the Cathedral.
They include priest Richard Hooker, who acted as the mentor for the Anglican clergy of the first English slaveholding colonies.
Another is the former Dean of Canterbury, Isaac Bargrave, who hailed from a family who ‘cemented their position’ thanks to overseas trade and settlement.
Dean of Canterbury George Stanhope viewed Native Americans as ‘heathens’ and spearheaded the Society of the Propagation of the Gospel, which accepted slavery as, ‘fundamentally sanctioned by both natural law and the bible’.
A statue of William Juxon, a former Archbishop of Canterbury who had forged connections to the early English slave trade, includes ‘four black Moors’ heads’ on his coat of arms, was also identified.
But Dr Marsh believes statues are in need of ‘re-curation’ rather than damaging or defacing.
‘Most professional historians would like to see full contextualisation – that’s what good history is about – it’s not about judging,’ he said.
A Cathedral spokesman said: ‘This interim review will be discussed by the Cathedral’s governing chapter later this month, before being assessed and reviewed by a wider external group, representing a diversity of expertise and cultural perspectives.
‘We hope that this process will be complete – and any recommendations made public – within the next two to three months.
‘The outcome of the Cathedral’s own review – in conjunction with the central guidance currently being created by the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England – will then determine how any items at Canterbury Cathedral connected with slavery, colonialism, or contentious figures from other historic periods, are displayed with clear objective interpretations and contextual information, and are presented in a way that avoids any sense of aggrandisement.
‘We hope that by providing this context – and acknowledging any associated oppression, exploitation, injustice and suffering connected with these objects – all visitors to the Cathedral can leave with a greater understanding of our shared history and be inspired to undertake further learning and discussion.’
Fury over Sadiq Khan’s woke statue taskforce: London mayor unveils monuments commission – including social rights activist who backed defacing statue and academic who said white supremacy can be traced back to Britain
Sadiq Khan was today accused of ‘reducing London’s history to politics’ after unveiling his diversity taskforce to review landmarks in the capital.
The 15-strong team includes an academic who implied that all international examples of white supremacy can be traced back to Britain, and a campaigner who once confronted the Queen to demand she apologise for historical injustices.
The project has come under fire from politicians concerned that figures of our national past could be erased by ‘unelected activists’.
But the Mayor of London stressed the purpose of the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm was not to remove statues, only to ‘raise public understanding’.
Statues, street names, building names and memorials in the capital will all come under the spotlight.
Sadiq Khan has unveiled his diversity taskforce that will review London’s landmarks in the wake of last year’s Black Lives Matter protests
Toyin Agbetu grabbed headlines in 2007 after disturbing a ceremony at Westminster Abbey marking the abolition of slavery
The thorny subject of evaluating existing statues will be probed by the panel – many of whom have already been publicly outspoken on the matter.
Toyin Agbetu, a social rights activist, praised activists who painted red the hands of slaver Robert Geffrye’s statue in Hackney, to symbolise the ‘blood on his hands’.
He hailed them as committing ‘a transgressive, yet progressive act of public service’ by ‘making visible the history and human cost of those involved in such monstrous evil’.
Agbetu grabbed headlines in 2007 after disturbing a ceremony at Westminster Abbey marking the abolition of slavery.
With both the Queen and PM Tony Blair present, he yelled: ‘You should be ashamed. We should not be here. This is an insult to us.’
The Commission also includes prominent art critic Aindrea Emelife, who supported the statue of Bristol slave trader Edward Colston being replaced with a BLM activist.
Colston was memorably ripped down and thrown into the harbour during protests last year.
It also includes famous faces such as Emmy-winning actor Riz Ahmed (left), who has starred in Star Wars: Rogue One and US series The Night Of. The Commission also includes prominent art critic Aindrea Emelife (right)
Conservative candidate for mayor Shaun Bailey said: ‘Sadiq Khan wants to reduce our history to politics’
It has been replaced with a likeness of Jen Reid, the BLM protester who climbed up on the empty plinth and clenched her fist in the style of Black Power.
At the time, Ms Emelife she described ‘seeing the crane lift this up onto the plinth from our lookout point. The rush of adrenaline as this project is realised guerrilla style.’
City Hall said the panel was selected through an ‘open recruitment process’ and will serve initially for two years.
It also includes famous faces such as Emmy-winning actor Riz Ahmed, who has starred in Star Wars: Rogue One and US series The Night Of.
A staunch critic of the Prime Minister, on a television show he once called Mr Johnson ‘an out-and-out complete c***’ who is ‘overtly racist’ and ‘blatantly lies to the public’.
He also said he hates the word ‘diversity’ because it does not equate with true representation.
Fellow panellist, business academic Lynette Nabbosa, who founded an organisation for role models to engage with black youth, has previously suggested that white supremacy is rooted in British history.
She wrote in October: ‘The UK seems to be the common denominator in atrocities across the world.
Colston was memorably ripped down and thrown into the harbour during protests last year
‘No matter where you find examples of white supremacy, all roads lead back to my country of birth.
‘It was the UK’s racism that birthed slavery and colonialism. We say it is in the past but our schools, colleges, universities, streets, museums etc have never stopped honouring the enforcers of our oppression.’
Shaun Bailey, Conservative candidate for London Mayor, said: ‘London is a city built on history — sometimes bad, more often good, and always complicated. But Sadiq Khan wants to reduce our history to politics.
Curator Sandy Nairne, pictured showing the Duchess of Cambridge around the National Portrait Gallery, is also a member of the Commission
‘A commission of fifteen unelected activists should not get to decide which statues to pull down and which streets to rename — which history my children are allowed to see.
‘My preference is always to put up new statues instead of tearing down old ones. That’s how we truly celebrate our black role models and pioneering women.’
Mr Khan announced his intention to establish the Commission last July following the police killing of George Floyd in the United States.
The death reverberated across the world, and spurred activists in the UK to topple and deface statues of historical figures.
Announcing the panel, Mr Khan said: ‘For far too long, too many Londoners have felt unrepresented by the statues, street names and building names all around them, and it’s important that we do what we can to ensure our rich and diverse history is celebrated and properly commemorated in our city.
‘I’m delighted to bring together this inspiring group of leaders from across London to form the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm. Each member brings with them great insight and knowledge that will help to improve the representation of our public landscape.’
Full list of members of Sadiq Khan’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm
Toyin Agbetu – social rights activist and founder of Ligali
Riz Ahmed – Actor, writer, creator, producer, musician, director and activist
Robert Bevan – architecture critic for the Evening Standard
David Bryan – chair of Battersea Arts Centre, Brixton House and Voluntary Arts
Aindrea Emelife – art historian, writer, independent curator and presenter
Pedro Gil – director and founder of Studio Gil
Jack Guinness – founder of The Queer Bible
Gillian Jackson – director of engagement at the House of St Barnabas and a trustee of Culture24
Reverend Professor Keith Magee – Senior Fellow in Culture and Justice at UCL
Lynette Nabbosa – founder of Elimu
Sandy Nairne CBE FSA – historian and curator
Eleanor Pinfield – director of Art on the Underground and member of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group
Jasvir Singh OBE – chair of City Sikhs
Binki Taylor – Brixton business owner and partner in the Brixton Project
Dr Zoé Whitley – director at Chisenhale Gallery