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Church memorial commemorating 18th century slave trader to be replaced

by Kelly Valencia

After more than two years of campaigning to remove it, St Peter's Church in Dorchester will replace a plaque commemorating a slave trader with another one only bearing his basic details. 

The memorial to John Gordon, an 18th century slave trader, was installed in the church following his death in 1744 aged 44. 

It praised his role in supressing a slave rebellion in Jamaica, which killed up 500 slaves in the country, using offensive language. 

But following complaints by anti-racist groups the church decided to start the process of removal which was granted by a church judge in September following a two-year process. 

Now the plaque will be replaced with a simpler memorial made by local stonemasons and a specialist plasterer.

Church warden Val Potter told the BBC: "We had no objection to a marker for him, but the explicit actions praised on his memorial were what was unacceptable in a church saying that all are equally loved and valued by God."

David Rose, of Stand Up to Racism Dorset, also said: "I have to congratulate the church council and church warden for persisting in navigating through the church bureaucracy.

"It really isn't our place to tell the church what they can have on their walls but we are disappointed really.

"Maybe we could have put a memorial to local people who served as health workers and other essential workers during the Covid pandemic.

"To fill it with a memorial to John Gordon seems a perverted idea of what's important."

It's understood the work to remove the plaque from the church and place it in Dorset Museum is being funded by an anonymous donor. 

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