Report on connections between transatlantic slavery and the built environment.
A project that brings together previous research into the tangible traces of the impact of the transatlantic slave economy reflected in England's built heritage.
Much work has been done over recent decades to understand England’s role in transatlantic slavery.
Spanning the 15th to the 19th centuries, the transatlantic slave trade was one of the largest forced migrations of people and had a considerable impact on the history of Africa, the Americas and Europe. Britain dominated the trade in the 18th and early-19th centuries, until a force of abolitionist opinion led to the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in 1807.
However, the abolition of the trade did not mean an end to enslavement in British colonies, and wealth generated from commodities produced by enslaved labour continued to flow back to Britain. Emancipation of enslaved people in British Caribbean territories did not take place until 1833 (followed by binding terms of ‘apprenticeship’), and in other areas of the empire emancipation came later.
In early 2020 Historic England commissioned a research audit examining how this history finds expression in England’s built environment. The research audit brings together the work of historians, heritage organisations, local and community researchers, and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic research networks which has identified the tangible presence of England’s slavery past in buildings, houses, streets, industrial heritage, urban fabrics and rural landscapes.
The consultants, Dr Mary Wills and Dr Madge Dresser, have gathered a wide variety of research that has been carried out in the last 30 years across a range of media in relation to this broad theme. These ‘slavery connections’ include:
Much remains to be uncovered. The research audit summarises the existing research, identifies gaps and makes suggestions for future research.
The findings of the research audit are detailed in the Summary Report.
The research sources identified are listed and categorised in the Bibliography, which you can download as an Excel spreadsheet.
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