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Facing the Past: Black Lancastrians. A Portrait Exhibition by Lela Harris


Judges' Lodgings Museum, Church Street, Lancaster, Lancashire, LA1 1YS

Tel: 01524 581 241

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Facing the Past: Black Lancastrians.  A Portrait Exhibition by Lela Harris

A new exhibition looking at Black Lancastrians living in the area in the 1700s. 

A series of portraits have been commissioned from artist Lela Harris, depicting historic individuals Thomas Anson, Frances Elizabeth Johnson, John Chance, Isaac Rawlinson, ‘Ebo Boy’ and Molly.  They are shown alongside some of those who benefitted from slavery – Abraham Rawlinson, Mary Hutton Rawlinson, Benjamin Satterthwaite and Jane Hardman, painted by significant portrait artists including George Romney and Joseph Wright of Derby.

The portraits are accompanied by a young people's exhibition.  Local school children have created portraits of ‘Ebo Boy’, a young African man who escaped from slavery in Heysham, Lancashire.  Enslaved Africans were often given new names to strip them of their identity.  The children helped give ‘Ebo Boy’ a new name to reflect his African heritage and life story, Afamefuna, which means My name will not be lost, in the Igbo language.

Lancaster slave ships made 125 slaving voyages to West Africa.  Some of the furniture and portraits on display at the museum were bought by Lancaster families involved in the slave trade and the West Indies trade in goods produced by enslaved Africans in the Caribbean, such as sugar and rum.

he information on those featured in the new commissions comes from church records, runaway slave adverts and family stories.  They lived at a time when Lancaster merchants invested in selling an estimated 30,000 enslaved Africans through the Atlantic Slave Trade.  The city was once the fourth largest slave trading port in the country. 

Artist Lela Harris Gallery - Lela Harris illustrated the Folio Society edition of The Colour Purple by Alice Walker in 2021 and was V&A Illustration Award runner up in 2022.

Facing The Past is a collaboration between Black History Lancaster, Judges' Lodgings Museum, The Institute For Black Atlantic Research at UCLan, Sociology at Lancaster University and local schools. It has been funded by the Art Fund, and the Association of Independent Museums and National Lottery Heritage Fund. Thanks to National Lottery Players.

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  • Sub-Regional AwardsPartner of Visit Lancashire Partner of Visit Lancashire 2018


Road Directions

Morecambe, Lancaster and the Lune Valley is located in Lancashire, in the Northwest of England. Exit the M6 Motorway at Junction 34 and follow signs for Lancaster. Join the one way system (Caton Road) and pass small retail park on left on approach to traffic lights. Turn left following signs for Lancaster city centre.

Public Transport Directions

The nearest railway station is Lancaster, which is only a five minute walk from Lancaster Visitor Information Centre, just outside the city centre. The station is on the West Coast Mainline with regular mainline services to London and south and Glasgow and north.  Local services include a regular service to Morecambe. For more information call National Rail Enquiries on 08457 484950 or visit nationalrail.co.uk.  The nearest bus station is Lancaster, which is less than a five minute walk from the central pedestrianised shopping areas of St Nicholas' Arcade and Marketgate.  Local, regional and national services are available.  For further information contact traveline on 0871 200 2233 or visit traveline.org.uk.


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Judges' Lodgings MuseumJudges' Lodgings Museum, LancasterThe Judges' Lodgings dates back nearly 400 years on a site that has been at the centre of Lancaster's history for nearly 2000 years

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