The 2020 toppling of slave-trader Edward Colston's statue by Black Lives Matter protesters in Bristol was a dramatic reminder of Britain's role in trans-Atlantic slavery, too often overlooked. Yet the legacy of that predatory economy reaches far beyond bronze memorials; it continues to shape the entire visual fabric of the country.
Architect Victoria Perry explores the relationship between the wealth of slave-owning elites and the architecture and landscapes of Georgian Britain. She reveals how profits from Caribbean sugar plantations fed the opulence of stately homes and landscape gardens. Trade in slaves and slave-grown products also boosted the prosperity of ports like Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow, shifting cultural influence towards the Atlantic west. New artistic centres like Bath emerged, while investment in poor, remote areas of Wales, Cumbria and Scotland led to their 're-imagining' as tourist destinations: Snowdonia, the Lakes and the Highlands. The patronage of absentee planters popularised British ideas of 'natural scenery'--viewing mountains, rivers and rocks as landscape art--and then exported the concept of 'sublime and picturesque' landscapes across the Atlantic.
A Bittersweet Heritage unearths the slavery-tainted history of Britain's manors, ports, roads and countryside, and powerfully explains what this legacy means today.
Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
''A Bittersweet Heritage' illuminates how Caribbean profits shaped not only family trees, but the planting and painting of Britain's landscape--and the mansions erected thereon.'
'An impressive, highly readable, and beautifully illustrated book.'
'[A] fine, well-illustrated work of (often painful) history.'
'An important and engrossing contribution to the history of Britain's place in the global slave trade, and how it shaped our urban and rural, domestic and civic fabric. Perry successfully charts this brutal past and reminds us all of how its everyday legacies continue today.'
'This book showing how profits from Black slavery helped to transform Britain's architecture and landscapes gripped me from beginning to end. Enhanced by a lucid and accessible prose style together with many fascinating images, it most certainly deserves a very wide readership.'
'This is a scholarly and timely history of great country seats created from the profits of plantation slavery. It is a fascinating story of how the political, cultural, social and economic milieu both shaped their history and informs our present.'
'This book is eye-opening. From her essay in the renowned volume Slavery and the British Country House to this magnificent new study, Victoria Perry continues to illuminate the myriad--and surprising--architectural, rural and cultural legacies of Britain's slavery business.'
'A captivating if uncomfortable account of the connections – strategic and individual – between the trans-Atlantic slave trade and Britain's built and natural heritage. The design ideals of this cruel historic period have been successfully buried for generations, but Perry's meticulous research and excellent storytelling bring them to new audiences.'