Paulina Kewes, Helen Morag Fellow and Tutor and Professor of English Literature, has commented on news that Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), the organisation that manages historic royal properties, including Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace, is to hire a curator to look into their connections to the slave trade.
In an article published on the CBC News website earlier this week, Paulina said, “When you think about the whole issue of the slave trade and the connection with the monarchy, if you go online, you're not going to find a book which specifically deals with this. There isn't a book called The British Monarchy and the Slave Trade or Stuarts and the Slave Trade."
She said that there is a need in Britain for "wider dissemination of some facts which may not be comfortable but which need to be in the public domain."
Jesus College has already begun a review of its own links to colonialism. Dr Felicity Heal, Emeritus Fellow and formerly Fellow and Tutor in Modern History, has written a preliminary report on the nature of our connection with enslavement and colonialism, drawn from research for the new College History to be published in 2021.
The appointment of a new HRP curator has been prompted by the Black Lives Matter movement, and comes following a report by the National Trust which suggested that a third of its properties were linked to money generated by the trade during the Stuart period.
Paulina went on to say that, from her perspective, HRP should not go it alone in their endeavours: "I think that it is absolutely necessary that Historic Royal Palaces should work alongside galleries, the National Trust, the National Archives, museums of all kinds."
"[There] should be a proper network which specifically addresses the role of the slave trade in the history, [the] culture, of this country, its impact on art and architecture, on all sorts of things, and not reinvent the wheel."