Who Do You Think We Were? The Ossuary at St Leonard’s Church

Thursday 28 October 2021

A talk exploring Hythe’s hidden black history by Ann Petrie, author of The Story of Kent, with Brin Hughes and Mike Pearson


Who do you think we were? From history lessons, historical dramas, popular history books and documentaries, you might assume that there was no-one who wasn’t white in Britain before the 20th century.

However, as we grapple with racism and the construct of race in the present day, it is becoming more apparent that we need to know and understand our history. There were African-heritage people here in Britain before Windrush; indeed long before the concept of ‘race’ as we know it existed.

Here in Hythe we are lucky enough to have stunning proof of this. The ossuary of St Leonard’s church holds the bones of about 1500-2000 people. About four years ago, an expert carried out a small study of fifty skulls and found that two had a feature which identified them as likely to be of African origin. How did they arrive here?

Anne Petrie, Brin Hughes and Mike Pearson will discuss the history, provenance and current status of the skulls in situ at St Leonard’s Church.