Slavery and Empire on Display: The Beckford Objects at Charlecote Park

Thursday 19th of May

Join Annabelle Gilmore as she delves into the history of Charlecote Park and find out more about the house’s links to empire and slavery!


Uncomfortable Oxford is incredibly excited to be hosting Birmingham scholar Annabelle Gilmore on Thursday, the 19th of May at 6 pm at Commonground Café for a deeper exploration of this National Trust House’s links to slavery and empire.

Tickets are, as always, free, and there will be alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks served. Spaces are limited so please book ahead to avoid disappointment.

About the Talk:

Annabelle will be discussing the Beckford Objects displayed at the National Trust Charlecote Park in Warwickshire. These are sixty-four items purchased by George Hammond Lucy (1789-1845) from the Fonthill Abbey Sale in 1823. The objects had belonged to William Thomas Beckford (1760-1844), a renowned art collector whose fortune came from the continued generational exploitation of enslaved labour on Jamaican plantations. Furthermore, the objects now at Charlecote Park, are predominantly of Asian origin, including porcelains, Japanese lacquer, and furniture from South Asia.

Annabelle looks at William Thomas Beckford’s wealth and his ultimate financial decline which led to the sale of his vast Fonthill Abbey estate and its contents, furthermore highlighting how Warwickshire was not a provincial, isolated county but rather connected to the global institution of slavery.

It explores how Charlecote Park and the Lucy family, though not directly involved with slavery and imperialism, benefitted from them and how the display of these objects projected social status in the 18th century.

About Annabelle Gilmore:

Annabelle Gilmore is an AHRC Midlands4Cities funded PhD student at the University of Birmingham. Her work is investigating the links between slavery and imperialism through the Beckford objects on display at Charlecote Park in Warwickshire as a collaborative doctoral award with the National Trust. Other interests include working on Black British and Atlantic histories in the long eighteenth century and how the heritage sector is working on providing more inclusive histories and their efforts in decolonising these spaces. She is currently a co-convenor of the online seminar series ‘Culture, Things and Empire’.

About Uncomfortable Oxford:

Uncomfortable Oxford was founded by Oxford University students to raise awareness and create discourse in Oxford about ‘uncomfortable’ aspects of our shared history.

We run walking tours, blogs, public lectures, and outreach programs that engage with these histories and their impact on the modern city.

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