Chartwell was the family home of Winston Churchill National Trust. Photo by Chris Jonas
Winston Churchill’s home Chartwell is among 93 properties listed in the National Trust’s first comprehensive report on direct and indirect connections to slavery and empire at sites in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The report was commissioned a year ago to build on the organisation’s ongoing Colonial Countryside programme. Consisting of contextual essays and an index of the 93 properties, it brings together existing knowledge about individual estates, as well as previously unknown connections uncovered by curators in the course of the project.
One new discovery was that the Anson family of Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire had, through marriage, derived some of their wealth from a Caribbean plantation that used enslaved labour.
“The extent of these colonial links is not surprising, yet for us it is the first time we’ve gathered them together in one place,” said John Orna-Ornstein, director of culture and engagement at the trust.
The report will inform interpretation at the organisation’s sites and the trust hopes it will also be useful to external researchers. “We see it as a working document. We’re under no illusions that it’s finished,” added Orna-Ornstein.
The research took on new significance this year as Black Lives Matter protests shone a spotlight on problematic heritage in the civic realm.