Global Lives: Hidden Exeter Histories

Global Lives: Hidden Exeter Histories

Explore Exeter using the trail and visit sites linked to historic figures associated with the transatlantic slave trade.

The stops on this trail connect to places in the city that University of Exeter students refer to in their alternative plaques, created as part of the ‘Global Lives: Multicultural Geographies’ module. Linked to RAMM’s In Plain Sight exhibition (29 Jan to 29 May 2022), the trail aims to make visible the legacies of slavery which can still be seen in Exeter today.

The plaques are the students’ own work and are not part of any official blue plaque scheme. The views expressed are those of the students and do not necessarily represent the views of ECC, RAMM or our partner organisations.

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Global Lives Trail Map

William Stewart Mitchell D'Urban

William Stewart Mitchell D'Urban

William Stewart Mitchell D'Urban
(stop 1 of 10)

RAMM's first curator, William Stewart Mitchell D'Urban, was a distinguished naturalist, writer and collector. Although he did not own enslaved people, several of his close relatives did. Profits from sugar plantations and slave compensation payments helped him establish a privileged place in local society, allowing him to pursue his passion for natural history studies.

Start this trail in RAMM's Finders Keepers gallery, where some of D'Urban's collections can be seen.

Sir Thomas Modyford (1620-79)

Sir Thomas Modyford (1620-79)

Sir Thomas Modyford (1620-79)
(stop 2 of 10)

Thomas Buckland's plaque was inspired by artefacts at RAMM which came from a house bought by a former Mayor of Exeter, John Modyford, in 1620. His son, Thomas Modyford, was a trader in enslaved people, governor of Barbados and Jamaica, and architect of the 'Slave Codes'.

These laws characterised enslaved humans as 'chattels' – (property to be bought and sold without human rights) and contributed to the development of the trade throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

Jasmine Jump, 'Sir John Colleton (1679-1754)'

Jasmine Jump, 'Sir John Colleton (1679-1754)'

Jasmine Jump, 'Sir John Colleton (1679-1754)'
(stop 3 of 10)

Jasmine Jump created this plaque on Sir John Colleton, who was celebrated for bringing the Magnolia flower from Carolina to Devon. The flower is held by shackled hands to acknowledge the family's links to the slave trade. They owned plantations and enslaved people in Barbados and South Carolina.

Jasmine aimed to highlight that Colleton was only able to introduce the Magnolia flower because of the wealth created by owning enslaved people.

Julia Wolfle, 'The Baring Dynasty'

Julia Wolfle, 'The Baring Dynasty'

Julia Wolfle, 'The Baring Dynasty'
(stop 4 of 10)

Julia Wolfle's plaque shows the local Baring family's connections to both the slave trade and East India Company. The longevity and success of their internationally-renowned Barings Bank (which collapsed in 1995) was partly built on profits from these connections.

The plaque demonstrates that, as bankers, merchants, and politicians, the family left numerous physical, economic and cultural legacies in the city.

Megan Wilkinson, 'William Kellitt Hewitt'

Megan Wilkinson, 'William Kellitt Hewitt'

Megan Wilkinson, 'William Kellitt Hewitt'
(stop 5 of 10)

William Kellitt Hewitt owned enslaved people across three plantations in St. Elizabeth in Jamaica, which were inherited by his wife and children in 1812. This memorial (rather than plaque) gives an alternative English translation to Hewitt's Latin original in Exeter Cathedral, which makes no reference to his connection to slavery.

By copying the original, Megan Wilkinson aimed to make hidden links visible and challenge established histories.

A.K., 'Thomas (1785-1862) & Henry Phillpotts (1778-1869)'

A.K., 'Thomas (1785-1862) & Henry Phillpotts (1778-1869)'

A.K., 'Thomas (1785-1862) & Henry Phillpotts (1778-1869)'
(stop 6 of 10)

This plaque focuses on the stories of Henry Phillpotts – Bishop of Exeter from 1830 to 1869 – and his younger brother Thomas. Thomas owned 778 enslaved people across nine different Jamaican estates and received significant compensation after they were freed.

This plaque was created to highlight the point that not all Christians showed opposition to the slave trade.

George Wooldridge, 'Sir John Hawkins (1532-95)'

George Wooldridge, 'Sir John Hawkins (1532-95)'

George Wooldridge, 'Sir John Hawkins (1532-95)'
(stop 7 of 10)

This plaque focuses on Sir John Hawkins, a Devon-born naval commander and privateer for Queen Elizabeth I. Hawkins violently seized hundreds of Africans from Portuguese ships and was the first Devon trader to profit from the Triangle Trade, selling his captives to Spanish colonies in the West Indies and bringing back exotic goods for sale.

The Ship Inn in Exeter was a pub said to be frequented by Hawkins' close companion and cousin, Sir Francis Drake. It aims to challenge the notion of historical heroes.

Rosanna Ormandy, 'Frederick Douglass (1817-95)'

Rosanna Ormandy, 'Frederick Douglass (1817-95)'

Rosanna Ormandy, 'Frederick Douglass (1817-95)'
(stop 8 of 10)

Frederick Douglass – the formerly enslaved American abolitionist, social reformer, writer and statesman – completed a two-year tour of Britain and Ireland in 1845-6 to promote the abolition of slavery. This plaque, created by Rosanna Ormandy, commemorates his visit to Exeter in 1846.

The Royal Subscription Rooms, where Douglass gave a speech about abolition, was located where Boots is now situated on Exeter High Street.

Andrew Noble, 'John Codrington Bampfylde (1754-97)'

Andrew Noble, 'John Codrington Bampfylde (1754-97)'

Andrew Noble, 'John Codrington Bampfylde (1754-97)'
(stop 9 of 10)

The Exeter-based romantic poet, John Bampfylde, was also a passionate abolitionist. He broke away from his maternal ancestors, the Codringtons, who owned sugar plantations in the Caribbean.

Andrew Noble's plaque explores the naming of the street and recognises Bampfylde's abolitionist ideologies. Text from a poem written in support of anti-slavery movements features around the edge.

In Plain Sight: Transatlantic slavery and Devon

In Plain Sight: Transatlantic slavery and Devon

In Plain Sight: Transatlantic slavery and Devon
(stop 10 of 10)

In Plain Sight: Transatlantic slavery and Devon is a major exhibition exploring the museum's and Devon's links with centuries of trading enslaved African people across the Atlantic. The exhibition investigates aspects of the transatlantic slave trade that are all around us, but for some remain 'hidden in plain sight'. Since 2018, RAMM has been working with a network of researchers and experts to shed light on this hidden history.

Using the museum's collections and contemporary sources, In Plain Sight traces the local industries that relied on the trade and the lives of the people who benefitted from its profits. It also features a newly commissioned film which reflects on RAMM's iconic painting 'Portrait of an African' and a new commission by the acclaimed artist Joy Gregory. Gregory has worked with the museum team, the exhibition's advisory panel and local community members to create a work responding to the themes of In Plain Sight.

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My Global Lives: Hidden Exeter Histories Notes

Global Lives: Hidden Exeter Histories

Global Lives: Hidden Exeter Histories

Explore Exeter using the trail and visit sites linked to historic figures associated with the transatlantic slave trade.

The stops on this trail connect to places in the city that University of Exeter students refer to in their alternative plaques, created as part of the ‘Global Lives: Multicultural Geographies’ module. Linked to RAMM’s In Plain Sight exhibition (29 Jan to 29 May 2022), the trail aims to make visible the legacies of slavery which can still be seen in Exeter today.

The plaques are the students’ own work and are not part of any official blue plaque scheme. The views expressed are those of the students and do not necessarily represent the views of ECC, RAMM or our partner organisations.

The stops on this trail connect to places in the city that University of Exeter students refer to in their alternative plaques, created as part of the ‘Global Lives: Multicultural Geographies’ module. Linked to RAMM’s In Plain Sight exhibition (29 Jan to 29 May 2022), the trail aims to make visible the legacies of slavery which can still be seen in Exeter today.

The plaques are the students’ own work and are not part of any official blue plaque scheme. The views expressed are those of the students and do not necessarily represent the views of ECC, RAMM or our partner organisations.

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