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National Trust unveils research into colonial history of properties

Words: The Planner
Chartwell Estate

The National Trust has acknowledged that 93 of its properties and places have links with colonialism and slavery.

The conservation body has unveiled interim research which it said is the beginning of work to understand the links with colonialism and “to integrate that into our narrative”.

The properties include Winston Churchill’s Chartwell country estate because of his opposition to self-governance in India and his role as prime minister during the Bengal famine of 1943, Lundy Island in Devon where convicts were forced into unpaid labour, and Hare Hill in Cheshire, whose owner William Hibbert was a major slave trader.

The research also cites 29 places with links to successful compensation claims for slave ownership following abolition.

“Colonialism and slavery were central to the national economy from the 17th to the 19th centuries,” said the National Trust’s curatorial and collections director Tarnya Cooper. “Around a third of the properties now in our care have direct connections to wider colonial histories, often in a way that’s reflected in collections, materials and records that are visible at those places.

“As a heritage charity it’s our job to research, interpret and openly share full and up-to-date information about our places. This includes information about colonialism and slavery where it is relevant. This is part of caring for our properties in a historically responsible and academically robust way.”

The research is available here.