Rustat Memorial: no appeal on judgment

On 12 April, Jesus College, Cambridge released a statement that having taken advice, and after much thought, the college council has decided not to appeal the disappointing judgment. While it believes the judgment is fundamentally wrong, the time and costs involved in appealing the decision are significant, and the grounds on which we are allowed to appeal are restrictive.

On the following day, the Church of England released a statement in which the Archbishop of Canterbury said:

“Places of Christian worship should be sacred spaces where everyone can encounter the unconditional love of God, and to know and worship him in Jesus Christ. I have questioned previously why it is so difficult to move the Rustat memorial in Jesus College chapel – which causes such pain and distress to people whose ancestors were sold into slavery – to a place where it can be understood in context. I stand by those comments.

“Memorials to slave-traders do not belong in places of worship. Jesus College wished to move the memorial to a place where it could be studied as an important historical memorial, without disrupting worship. I have no doubt that the law was followed in this instance, and that the Church of England’s contested heritage guidance was used. But if we are content with a situation where people of colour are excluded from places of worship because of the pain caused by such memorials, then clearly we have a lot further to go in our journey towards racial justice.

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