“Contested heritage” and offensive inscriptions: Re St Margaret Rottingdean (2)

On 17 June 2020, we posted Of graves, headstones and “offensive” inscriptions: Re St Margaret’s Rottingdean in which we examined the judgment and directions in Re St Margaret Rottingdean [2020] ECC Chi 4, handed down on 15 June 2020, in the context of the developments following the public protests associated with the Black Lives Matter campaign which came to a head in the UK over the weekend of 6/7 June 2020 with the toppling of the statue of slave-trader Edward Colston and its deposit in the harbour in Bristol.

By an interim faculty issued on 15 June 2020, Hill Ch had sanctioned the temporary removal of two headstones from the churchyard of St Margaret of Antioch, Rottingdean, to protect them from possible damage or destruction. The headstones commemorated G H Elliott and Alice Banford, and it was felt that the inclusion in the inscriptions of a highly-derogatory racist expression (reproduced in full, including the derogatory term, at paragraph [7] of the substantive judgment below) was likely to cause offence. The Petitioners were the vicar and churchwardens of the parish, with the Archdeacon of Brighton and Lewes and the heirs-at-law of those memorialised by each headstone joined as Additional Parties.

On 1 February, Hill Ch gave a substantive judgment in Re St Margaret, Rottingdean (No. 2) [2021] ECC Chi 1. Continue reading