“Contested heritage”: additional issues in Re Dorchester St Peter

In addition to traits in the case of “contested heritage”, throughout the Church of Englandthere were various consistory court judgments during which this has gained judicial attention. On this weblog, now we have had visitor posts by means of Trevor Cooper and Simon Hunter which reviewed the Church’s steerage on “contested heritage” and explored “the inherent contests of heritage, and on Rustat” respectively.

The judgment in Re Dorchester St Peter, Holy Trinity and All Saints [2022] ECC Sal 4 was once the end result of projects throughout the parish relating to a monument to John Gordon in St Peter’s church, [9] to [17], Arlow Ch clarified at [9] that:

“Many will assume that this petition is a response to the Black Lives Matter movement which gave rise to global anti-racism protests after the murder of George Floyd…it is clear from the evidence before me that this church community has been considering and working towards some resolution of these issues for much longer.”

In July 2021, the Vicar and Churchwardens petitioned for a college to transport the memorial to John Gordon from a distinguished place within the church to the County Museum in an instant subsequent door and erect a alternative memorial within the church [12], John Gordon was once a plantation overseer (and later proprietor) in Jamaica who, it stated on his monument, repulsed a riot of “a large body of negroes” in Jamaica in 1760 [5], The petitioners argued that, within the present social local weather, the wording of the unique memorial would possibly offend some guests to the church and that its endured presence could be damaging to the church’s challenge and message.

Although the memorial have been at the north wall of the church for nearly 250 years, its possession didn’t relaxation with the church; on the other hand, the consent of its proprietor was once no longer a important prerequisite to the grant of a school, s 66(1) Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure 2018, the place they might no longer be discovered “after reasonable efforts to find him or her have been made”. The Court famous “it’s been established that there’s no direct descendant of John Gordon, however, in spite of considerable efforts, it has proved inconceivable to spot a present inheritor at legislation. By now the category of related descendants might be huge” [7],

Important within the attention of the petition was once the important means of session and recommendation. This drew strengthen from some, however objections from others [18] to [26], extracts from those are summarized here, Arlow Ch defined the appropriate legislation [27] to [30]the particular architectural and historical passion of the church development [31] to [33]the particular importance of the memorial [34] to [35]and the ancient context – John Gordon and Tacky’s Revolt [36] to [40],

In making use of the duffield tips, Arlow Ch thought to be whether or not the proposals would lead to hurt to the particular importance of the development, and the way severe would that hurt be [41] to [44], Agreeing with the CBC’s evaluate of “moderate harm”, she stated:

,[44], The hurt to the importance of the memorial itself could be better (than to the development). I’m very conscious of the truth that that importance comes mainly from its worth as a unprecedented, most likely distinctive, report in stone of an important match in historical past. In some respects, its presence within the church of St Peter is an twist of fate of historical past, in that it is just there as a result of John Gordon came about to die in Dorchester on his manner passing throughout the the town, nevertheless it has nonetheless been within the development on this location for nearly 250 years and data the burial of John Gordon’s stays within sight. Although the memorial will stay intact and neatly curated, its elimination from the bodily context during which it has remained since its erection could be damaging to its importance. That importance can also be harmed by means of its most likely elimination from everlasting public show (while closing publicly obtainable)”.

Arlow Ch concluded that the general public receive advantages to be derived from the elimination of the memorial, topic to its alternative with a memorial omitting main points which would possibly motive offence, would outweigh the hurt led to. The glaring contemporary comparability is with the judgment in Re The Rustat Memorial, Jesus College Cambridge, [2022] ECC Ely 2, on the other hand, Arlow Ch appeared the memorial as “quite different” from the memorial to Tobias Rustat:

“… On its face, [the Gordon memorial] celebrates in language of acclamation the violent quelling of a rebellion by enslaved people against a status which is now universally acknowledged as morally repugnant and contrary to Christian doctrine. That status was imposed upon them largely because of their race. Its continued presence in the building implies the continued support, or at least tolerance and acceptance, of discrimination and oppression. Such a position could be said to be uncomfortable in any public building, but presents a particularly striking discord with the purpose of this building as a house of God. It is entirely inconsistent with the message of the universality of God’s love which this church community seeks to share. The fourth Mark of Mission of the Anglican Communion is of particular relevance: To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation” [47],

Furthermore, Gordon’s involvement within the slave business have been a lot more direct and considerable than Rustat’s: on the time of his loss of life, Gordon had for my part owned greater than 400 slaves [51], Arlow Ch concluded that “even with careful and sensitive contextualization of its history”, the tone and content material of the memorial have been so at odds with the Mission Action Plan for the church that leaving it in situ “would not adequately address the needs of the petitioners to proclaim afresh the Gospel in this generation” [65], She concluded that the general public have the benefit of the proposals would outweigh the hurt led to by means of them [69] and granted a college topic to a number of prerequisites supposed to be sure that any hurt to the importance of the memorial and of the church could be minimized [70],


In the primary of its biannual Racial Justice Reports issued on 28 June 2022, the Archbishops’ Commission on Racial Justice famous on web page 24:

“We are conscious about one different case involving a monument which has given motive for worry the place [judgment] remains to be pending on the time of writing. We make no touch upon that save to mention that its end result is not likely, given the info recognized to us, to switch our view of what must be accomplished as a question of urgency within the aftermath of the Rustat case”.

It was once transparent on the time that this referred to the John Gordon memorial at St Peter, Holy Trinity and All Saints in Dorchester. However, while the St Peter judgment makes common connection with Rustat,and for which hyperlinks to the slave business have been a major problem, the courts took different components under consideration of their respective determinations in the case of the retention or elimination of the monuments: the hyperlink between the individual and the church/faculty chapel, their function as a benefactor, the importance of the possible elimination in the case of the memorial itself and at the development, the language used at the memorial.

An additional case, Re St Mary Barnes [2021] ECC Swk 10, thought to be a monument commemorating the Hoare circle of relatives of Barn Elms and their hyperlinks with the slave business. This was once no longer cited by means of both courtroom however supplies an instance on the reverse finish of the spectrum of involvement with slavery. In that case, Petchey Ch thought to be that not one of the members of the family to be venerated had hyperlinks to the slave business – just a member of the circle of relatives two generations previous than the oldest of them.

In view of the hot projects relating to hyperlinks between memorials and the slave business in Bristolthe London Borough of Lambeth and in other places, it sort of feels most likely that different examples will probably be discovered during which the consistory courts will probably be tasked with figuring out the way forward for different statues and monuments. Whilst so far there was no involvement of the Arches Court, the judgments in Re St Mary Barnes, Re The Rustat Memorial, Jesus College Cambridgeand Re Dorchester St Peter, Holy Trinity and All Saints cope with a large spectrum of instances which would possibly information long term determinations.

David Pocklington and Frank Cranmer

, “The term contested heritage is a somewhat euphemistic expression applied to memorials and other structures associated with individuals from the past whose conduct is considered abhorrent and inimical to contemporary values ​​and, of particular relevance in faculty cases, to Christian theology and standards of behaviour. Most commonly, the issue arises from property memorialising slave traders or erected on the profits of slave trading.”

Hill Ch in Re St Margaret, Rottingdean ,No 2) [2021] ECC Chi 1 at [20],

, At [14], [35, 36], [47], [50 to 52],

Cite this newsletter as David Pocklington and Frank Cranmer, “’Contested heritage’: additional issues in Re Dorchester St Peter“, in Law & Religion UK5 September 2022: https://lawandreligionuk.com/2022/09/06/contested-heritage-further-considerations-in-re-dorchester-st-peter/.

“Source of This Article:- “https://lawandreligionuk.com/2022/09/06/contested-heritage-further-considerations-in-re-dorchester-st-peter/

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