black UK

Sites of Memory – 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade
Portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle (left) and Lady Elizabeth Murray. From the collection of the Earl of Mansfield, Scone Palace, Perth.

The English Heritage Organization has put together a tour in England related to the abolition of the slave trade.

When the stories behind our local streets and landmarks are told they can give us a glimpse into the history on our doorstep. The late 16th to early 19th centuries – the period of Britain’s most active involvement in the transatlantic slave trade – have left a wealth of evidence in records and the historic environment that today tells the story of anti-slavery campaigners from all backgrounds, of those who grew wealthy on the trade in human lives and also of those who were themselves slaves in England but nevertheless left their mark on history.”

So far you can choose from The Slave Trade and Plantation Wealth, Black Lives in England, and Abolitionists.

Note: All the sites identified in this guide can be seen from public spaces, though not all are open to the public. Contact details are given where possible. Please check access details before visiting.

Find out more here.

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  1. Thanks Adrianne for this great tip on the English Heritage Foundation’s online resources about the slave trade and abolition in Britain.

    One must ask why did it take these various British historical and religious organizations and the UK government so long to make this valuable information available to the UK public and the world?

    English Heritage – Who We Are

    English Heritage is the Government’s statutory adviser on the historic environment. Officially known as the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England, English Heritage is an Executive Non-departmental Public Body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Our powers and responsibilities are set out in the National Heritage Act (1983) and today we report to Parliament through the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

    Although sponsored by DCMS, English Heritage works with a range of Government Departments, notably CLG and Defra, to help realise the potential of the historic environment.

    English Heritage is funded in part by the Government and in part from revenue earned from our historic properties and other services. In 2005/06 our public funding was worth ??129 million, and our income from other sources was ??41.9 million.

    It sure did take a long time for this “Executive Non-Governmental Executive Body” to spend tax dollars collected for decades from black Britons (and all British taxpayers) on historical monument preservation and history (re)education projects that deal with the legacy of black people in the British Isles & the former British Empire.

    It would also be interesting to know the total amount spent on this year’s 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery in Britain with charts and graphs showing the breakdown of the financial sources, both public monies and private donations and grants.

  2. Black Woman in Europe

    I feel you bill. I guess it took the anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade to get the UK government to use its resources to make this information available to the public. But I have to say that I am a bit impressed with the fact that so many symposiums, exhibits, etc came to pass. This could very easily have been an historic moment that went by unnoticed by the British government.

  3. Ooops, I messed up. The English Heritage foundation is an ‘Executive Non-departmental Public Body’.

    You are right in that it is great that so much valuable information that was literally hidden away in UK government archives and the private collections of foundations, libraries, and private individuals has been made available to the world for this 200th anniversary event. Better late than never.

    Other countries involved with the transatlantic slave trade and the colonization of Africa and the America’s need to follow America’s and Britain’s example… open up on this subject so that all people can learn the true history about this period.

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