Challenging topic tackled at Kenwood House for Key Stage 3 students

The legacy and impact of the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and its connection to Kenwood revealed for schools on site


Kenwood House in North London is expanding its education offer from September with a brand new expert-led Discovery Visit based upon Kenwood’s connection to the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade through its previous owner, Lord Mansfield.


Students will explore the role of Lord Mansfield – one of England’s greatest judges – in the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, gain an insight into the main arguments used by campaigners both for and against slavery and learn about Mansfield’s role as a senior legal figure in Britain and the impact of his rulings, in particular, the Somerset case and the Zong case.


Whilst other school trips looking at this topic will explore the theme in a museum setting, Kenwood House itself has a unique connection to this particular topic as it was the former home to Lord Mansfield from 1754. In 1766 Lord Mansfield and his wife then took in their two great-nieces Elizabeth Murray and Dido Elizabeth Belle. Dido was the daughter of Sir John Lindsay, nephew of Lord Mansfield, while Dido’s mother was an enslaved African woman.


At this time it was extremely rare for a mixed-race woman to be educated, literate and living at a house such as Kenwood. On the Discovery Visit journey, students will tour key rooms, use and critically evaluate a range of source material to piece together the stories of the lives of some of the individuals who lived at Kenwood. Students will be exposed to the methods of historians and the development of interpretation and be able to engage with the evidence available to form reasoned judgments of their own.


Caroline Candy, English Heritage’s Education Visits Officer for London said; “The story of Lord Mansfield and Dido Belle and their significance in the national abolition movement of the Transatlantic Slave Trade is a fascinating and inspiring part of London’s local history. The Education Department is delighted to launch a new Discovery Visit at Kenwood House which will bring this story to life and engage students with their local history in the place where history happened.”


The new Discovery Visit is an excellent opportunity to teach the Key Stage three History curriculum topic of Ideas, political power, industry and empire 1745-1901 outside of the classroom, and comes complete with an accompanying resource which can be taken back to school after the visit. Teachers can also link the Discovery Visit to a local history study.


Guiding young people through a story of such significance at a site such as Kenwood helps to consolidate students’ understanding of this topic through discussion and debate within incredibly inspiring surroundings.


Following the Discovery Visit, students will be able to consider the long term implications of the trade in enslaved Africans on the African continent and draw parallels to modern day examples of slavery such as human trafficking. They will be able to understand the story of Dido Belle and her life at Kenwood House and consider her experience and use that to contrast with the experience of other black people within 18th century London.


In addition to the life of Dido Belle, students will be able to make a judgment on the significance of Lord Mansfield and his legal rulings within the context of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Abolitionist movement. The visit also includes using a variety of sources and handling items, plus a resource which has been developed to support the visit. The learning outcomes are also specifically tailored to fit within national curriculum requirements for history.


The Kenwood Connections: Lord Mansfield and the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Discovery Visit can be booked now charged at £100 for a maximum of 30 students per session. Visits are available Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday all year. Schools are advised to call the English Heritage Education Bookings Team to check availability and to book on 0370 333 0606.