Exhibition: Monuments, Empire & Slavery
Wed 26 May until Thu 30 September
The exhibition reveals the links between some of the people commemorated on the Abbey’s ledgerstones and wall tablets, and the British Empire. Research so far has found over 200 connections to colonies including the West Indies and India from the 1700s and 1800s. The exhibition tells the stories of three different men within the context of 18th century Bath society and the transatlantic slave trade.
The exhibition in the North Transept is free. A leaflet with extra information on the monuments connected with the British Empire can be picked up at the exhibition or downloaded here.
Since the tragic death of George Floyd in America in May 2020, and the Black Lives Matter protests against racism, Bath Abbey has pledged to address its history, learn from it and help others to do so too. The exhibition is part of our commitment to this process.
The Revd Canon Guy Bridgewater, Rector of Bath Abbey, has said: “Slavery should have no place in society, and must be renounced utterly. It is shameful that it was practiced for so long, without effective challenge by church or nation. At Bath Abbey we deeply regret the hateful industry of human exploitation, whether by ignorant complicity or evil design, that certain of our 18th and 19th century memorials make evident.
‘Monuments, Empire and Slavery’ seeks to expose that guilty heritage, and to learn from it. I am most grateful to the Abbey team who is leading this important work, and to our partners from University of West of England (UWE), Black in Bath Network, and the Bath Ethnic Minority Senior Citizens Association (BEMSCA) at Fairfield House who are helping us learn from a significant range of contemporary perspectives and multi-racial voices – with the goal of both learning from the past, and working for a more just future for all.”
The exhibition contains images by local artist Manoel Akure. A poem commissioned from artist Mark De’Lisser can be seen here.
This exhibition is just part of Bath Abbey’s commitment to telling the story of our connections to the British Empire and working towards an equal future for all. To find out more, please see our anti-racism page for details of our current and future projects.