Grade II listing for slavery abolitionist's tomb

Residents repair historic tomb of key figure in British anti-slavery movement

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A group of local people who joined forces with All Saints Church to repair the historic tomb of one of the key figures in the British anti-slavery movement have had a major boost for their campaign.

 

The tomb of Granville Sharp, the man recognised in his day as the father of the British movement for the abolition of the slave trade, has been given a grade II listing by the government following a request from Hammersmith & Fulham Historic Buildings Group.

 

Group chairman Angela Dixon said, "We are delighted that the Secretary of State has recognised the importance of Granville Sharp by listing his tomb in All Saints churchyard. Sharp led the way and was seen by his contemporaries as the 'father of the abolition movement'."

 

H&F Historic Buildings Group are members of the Granville Sharp Working Group, which also has representatives from Black British Heritage, All Saints Church, the Fulham & Hammersmith Historical Society and the Fulham Society.

 

The working group is chaired by John Sheppard, who became aware of the poor state of the Sharp tomb while carrying out a borough-wide survey of sculptures for H&F Historic Buildings Group.

 

The aim is to have the tomb repaired this year to help mark the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade in this country.

 

Sharp, who lived in Fulham and whose tomb is in All Saints churchyard, has been overshadowed in the public mind by William Wilberforce, the MP who pushed the landmark abolition bill through Parliament. However, it was Sharp's tireless work, teaching himself the law and fighting for the rights of runaway slaves from 1765 onwards, which led to the first legal breakthrough of the abolition movement in 1772 and ultimately to the passing of the bill banning British ships from carrying slaves in 1807. As well as the local restoration project, Sharp is receiving national recognition with the release of a 50p Royal Mail stamp with his image on it.

 

On 23rd March Granville Sharp Working Group chairman John Sheppard led a local history session at Sharp's tomb in All Saints churchyard for children from All Saints Primary and St John's Walham Green Primary. He explained the history of the slave trade, Sharp's role in the campaign to abolish it, the Sharp family history and the campaign to repair the tomb. The school visits were arranged by H&F Council as part of events to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade.

 

John said, "The grade II listing confirms that Sharp's tomb is of national architectural and historical importance. This will help us secure funding to preserve it for future generations.

Our aim is to have the tomb repaired in time for a memorial service on Sunday 8 July, the nearest Sunday to the anniversary of Sharp's death in 1813."

 

Cllr Antony Lillis, cabinet member for children's services, joined the local history session with All Saints Primary School. He said, "This was a great way to make the history of the slave trade and the movement to abolish it relevant and interesting to local schoolchildren. The pupils asked lots of questions and were able to learn a great deal about slavery and Granville Sharp."

 

The 200th anniversary of the Act of Parliament abolishing the slave trade and Granville Sharp's role in the abolition movement were commemorated at a special service at All Saints Church, Fulham, on Sunday (25 March) as part of a series of bicentenary events in Hammersmith & Fulham and across the country. Sunday marked 200 years to the day that a Parliamentary Bill was passed to abolish the slave trade in the then British Empire.

 

More than 350 people attended the service. The leader of the council, Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, the borough's deputy mayor, Cllr Andrew Johnson, and Hammersmith & Fulham MP, Greg Hands, all attended and signed a pledge on behalf of the borough to work with other agencies to outlaw modern day slavery - or 'human trafficking'.

 

Cllr Johnson, who also spoke during the service, said, "We are delighted to be supporting the Granville Sharp Working Group and All Saints Church in raising the profile of the borough's important historical links to the movement to abolish the slave trade."

 

March 27, 2007