Britain's connections to the slave trade surround us today, yet they remain mostly unknown and invisible. This website shares the story of one example - Penrhyn Castle, a quintessentially British and extremely visible stately home founded on the profits of slavery.
Why is this important?
The history of British involvement in Atlantic slavery has been difficult to acknowledge. It exposes a past where British people caused immense suffering to others, and, although the British trade in enslaved Africans was made illegal over 200 years ago, it is still a subject that causes anger and shame. Yet to deny this story prevents us understanding the massive contribution slavery made to modern Britain. Without it, we cannot acknowledge the impact of enslaved and indentured workers, whose labour helped turn Britain into one of the world's largest economies.
Why Penrhyn Castle?
Unlike most historic sites whose connections to the slave trade are unknown, those of Penrhyn Castle, formerly owned by the Pennant family, are well recorded. Bangor University archive and special collections department holds a remarkable set of documents - a collection of nearly 2,000 original papers that chart the management of the Pennants' Jamaican sugar plantations in detail.
These documents include letters, maps, leases and sale receipts that passed between the Pennants and the agents who managed their Jamaican estates for them. They provide valuable insight into a fascinating as well as painful part of British history.