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Edward Colston stained-glass window in Bristol Cathedral will be looked at "very closely and urgently" says Dean

by Cara Bentley

The Dean of Bristol Cathedral has told Premier the Cathedral staff will be "very willing to look" at removing a large stained glass window linked to Edward Colston after a statue of the same man was brought down in protests against racism. 

Edward Colston was a slave trader, merchant and briefly an MP who donated much of his wealth to schools, churches and hospitals in Bristol, with many still bearing his name in the area. A statue of him marked his philanthropy in the city until this weekend but there had been calls for it to be removed for several years because he made the vast majority of his money through belonging to the Royal African Company which sold African men, women and children into slavery, branded their chests with RAC initials and whose trade led to many drowning at sea. 



The removal of the statue was previously discussed in 2017, as was the issue of a stained-glass window given "in pious emory of" Colston in the city's Cathedral. Colston was a member of the Church of England and donated money to churches throughout Bristol. 

At the time, the Dean of Bristol Cathedral, Very Rev David Hoyle told Premier: "Removing the biggest window in the cathedral would be hugely difficult for me. If I can find a way of doing that, I would be perfectly prepared to have that conversation, but we are talking many, many thousands of pounds."

On Monday, the current Acting Dean of Bristol Cathedral, Canon Michel Johnson, updated Premier in light of the statue's sudden removal, saying: "We're looking at our Cathedral building and what's in there and our own heritage and just seeing what will be the right action to take on that one. 

Canon Michael Johnson, Acting Dean of Bristol Cathedral


He said: "Clearly we haven't had the discussion yet but we're taking this matter very seriously and we will be looking at it very closely and urgently."

When asked what would happen if people called for its removal, he replied: "I see no reason why not and we'll have to work out our position on that one and just see what needs to be done - what can be done."

He hinted that it might be the right thing if the Cathedral is going to appeal to everyone: "The whole business that we're interested in is to do with healing, recognising that events on days like yesterday do cause a certain amount of division amongst different groups of people and we want to bring people together so that we can act for the good of all people, so that all people can live in a world where everyone can play their full part in society...and if that means making changes to our building, well, we'll be very willing to look at those things."

The window is under the outside Cathedral clock in the picture above and has several panes of glass. 





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