National Trust drops webpage alleging stately home was linked to slavery

National Trust drops webpage alleging stately home was linked to slavery after experts complained it was inaccurate

  • The National Trust alleged that Ham House had historical links to slavery
  • The page ‘Ham House’s Links to Empire and Slavery’ was created six weeks ago
  • The page has now been removed by the trust for a “formal review”










The National Trust was forced to remove a page from its website alleging a stately home was linked to slavery after experts complained it was inaccurate.

He set up the “Ham House’s Links to Empire and Slavery” page six weeks ago following the Black Lives Matter protests.

But it emerged yesterday that the page had been taken down for “formal review”.

The Trust faces questions about the quality of its research ahead of the publication of a geographic directory next week in which it is expected to claim that up to 100 of its roughly 300 properties had slavery links.

The National Trust was forced to remove a page from its website alleging a stately home was linked to slavery after experts complained it was inaccurate

The Ham House page claimed that the 17th-century house in southwest London was once owned by a family “who supported and approved of Britain’s role in the slave trade.” But experts say the links to the slave trade are “very tenuous”.

Tony Adler, retired history lecturer and expert at Ham House, where he has volunteered for ten years, said: “This is just guesswork and guilt by association. The Trust becomes too political and gets lost. It’s an estate witch hunt. What he really needs is a neutral historian to make sure the details are historically correct.

He was taken aback by the inclusion on the webpage of Sir Lionel Tollemache, who he said had no connection with the slave trade.

Sir Lionel married Elizabeth Murray, who inherited Ham House in 1655. The Trust should state in its geographic index that it signed a charter granting a British monopoly on the transport of slaves from Africa to the Americas.

But Mr Adler said the only organization allowed to trade in slaves during Sir Lionel’s lifetime was the Royal Adventurers, and their charter of 1663 did not bear the Tollemache name.

The Ham House page claimed that the 17th century house in southwest London was once owned by a family

The Ham House page claimed that the 17th-century house in southwest London was once owned by a family “who supported and approved of Britain’s role in the slave trade.” Pictured: The Cherry Garden at Ham House

The page also referred to John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale, who married Elizabeth after Sir Lionel’s death. Although his signature is on the Royal Adventurers’ charter, Mr Adler said it was not a success and went out of business long before Lauderdale had any connection with Ham House.

Another bone of contention is the inclusion of Lady Grace Carteret’s page. The Trust is expected to conclude next week that his family “brought more wealth” tainted with slavery to Ham House. But Mr Adler says that link is also “very tenuous”, adding: “Again, where is the evidence?”

Ham House was donated to the Trust by Sir Lyonel Tollemache, 4th Baronet, in 1948. His family are said to be angry at his claims.

Harry Mount, author of How England Made The English, said: “This is very typical of the dismal stupidity of the Trust. They abandoned scholarship and became obsessively political.

A Trust spokesperson said: “The page was removed when concerns were raised. We are grateful to the Tollemache family for helping to clarify the factual details. ‘


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