Planning permission has been granted to the City of London to fix an explanatory plaque to a historic statue linked to slavery, City A.M. can exclusively reveal.
Two Guildhall statues will be the first example of the the “retain and explain” policy chosen by the City of London Corporation as they grapple with the Square Mile’s complicated history.
Plaques will be fixed to depictions of William Beckford, a former two-time Lord Mayor, and philanthropist Sir John Cass, both whom have links to slavery.
It was decided by the Corporation in 2021 that there would be no official removal of the statues amid widespread calls for statutes to be pulled down across the country.
The William Beckford Statue, located within the Grade I listed Great Hall, needed Listing Building Consent before moving forward with the changes, whereas the Sir John Cass statue did not.
Following the recent approval, both statues are now expected to see changes.
As part of the City of London’s “commitment to tackling racism in all forms,” Chris Hayward, City Corporation Policy chair, said there has been ongoing reflection and recognition to ensure “people from all backgrounds feel safe and welcome in a modern, inclusive and forward-looking City.
“This is the next step in our journey in addressing, in an open and honest way, the City of London’s historic involvement in the horrific slave trade,” Hayward added.
The links the City has to slavery ‘cannot be erased’ and further education is needed, chair of the City Corporation’s Equality, Diversity, & Inclusion Sub-Committee, Andrien Meyers, said.
“We can’t be blind to the fact that the City’s history is inextricably linked to slavery, which is a stain on our past, but we are taking positive action now and hope that this work will help educate future generations,” Meyers added.