education

Cambridge University renames ‘The Colony’ building due to slavery connotations


The Colony accommodation block has now been renamed Castle Court (Picture: Facebook)

A university accommodation building has been renamed due to slavery ‘connotations’.

The Colony, a series of converted houses, houses second and third year undergraduate students at Cambridge University’s Clare College.

Following concerns over the Colony’s connotations, the decision has been made to change its name.

The buildings have no direct links to slavery.

A Clare College spokesperson said: ‘It has become increasingly clear that the informal name for the site between Chesterton Lane and Castle Street has connotations which do not reflect the values of the college.

‘The site is therefore being redesignated as Castle Court.’

Cambridge’s Clare College is known as a liberal and progressive college, leading the way in 1972 in admitting female students alongside Churchill and King’s.

The Colony buildings had been situated at the nearby Chesterton Lane.

The news of the name change comes after Jesus College’s campaign to remove a memorial plaque to Tobias Rustat, a college benefactor and investor in the slave trade, from its chapel.

The college fought the Church of England in a consistory court case in February to remove the memorial to an alternative space but ultimately lost the case.

In 2021, the college also returned a Benin Bronze – a sculpture of a cockerel – to Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments.

The cockerel sculpture was stolen by British colonial forces in 1897 and gifted to Jesus College in 1905 by the father of a student.

Archivist Robert Athol with the bronze statue of a cockerel called The Okukor (Picture: PA)

And in 2019, St Catharine’s College removed the Demerara bell from public view as it was believed it was used on a slave plantation in Guyana.

In the same year, Cambridge created an advisory group on the legacy of slavery at the university.

The group is researching the institution’s involvement in the Atlantic slave trade and other historical forms of coerced or indentured labour.

‘While it may be impossible to definitively establish the full extent of the university’s involvement, a growing understanding of that involvement should be central to the university’s efforts to address some of the structural inequalities that are a legacy of enslavement,’ a statement said.

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