This morning’s comments by The Archbishop of Canterbury on the BBC’s Today Programme highlight the work already being undertaken by Canterbury Cathedral to identify items such as memorials, statues or heraldic images that may have links with colonialism or the slave trade, and to create clear contextual information that acknowledges the history of such objects in an honest and sensitive way.
All of the Cathedral’s items are being reviewed to ensure that any 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 can leave with a greater understanding of our shared history and be inspired to undertake further learning and discussion.
Acknowledging the nationwide approach to these issues, The Church of England’s Director of Churches and Cathedrals, Becky Clark, said: “There are monuments in our churches and cathedrals to individuals and events whose destructive impact is still being felt by people living in the UK today. Meaningful dialogue needs to engage with this reality, recognise that these voices have often not been listened to in the past, and make decisions that allow these unjust experiences to form a recognised part of both the history and future of our churches.”