Calls for slave owner's plaque at St Peter's Church to be removed

Calls for slave owner's plaque at St Peter's Church to be removed

Published by Maria Greenwood at 11:42am 3rd July 2020.

A member of Dorset's Stand Up to Racism movement is in discussion with St Peter's Church in Dorchester, about the removal of The Gordon Plaque.

David Roads lives in Charminster and is a regular worshipper at St Peters. David told Wessex FM he got involved in trying to remove the plaque, because seeing it bothered him every time he went to church.

"I've spoken to a few people in the church and it had been obvious that they had been discussing the removal of the plaque for quite a few years. 

"It was brought into sharp focus by the Black Lives Matter movement, I'm also a member of Stand Up to Racism Dorset and clearly this is a racist plaque, it's as simple as that."

The plaque at St Peter's Church, is located on the north wall opposite the main door.

St Peter's Church in Dorchester

It's in memory of plantation owner, John Gordon, who owned 416 slaves in Jamaica in 1760. He was  involved in the suppression of a slave revolt.

David said:

"My issue is that it's been going on too many years and it's still there, it's commemorating an act of slavery which is why it's important it should be taken down, it stands for a celebration of slavery and suppression."

david roads stand up to racism dorset
David Roads, Stand Up To Racism Dorset

But he makes it clear that it's an important document and artefact of history and it should be placed in a museum.

"It should be kept somewhere and used as a part of education for our colonial history and slavery, but to have it on such prominent display is a celebration of racism and the wrong thing to have."

As there is no vicar at St Pete's Church at the moment, David has written to the Bishop of Sherborne and the Parochial Church Council about the plaque. 

He's still waiting to hear back from the Parochial Church Council about the next steps, but they are in discussions about the plaque's future.