All Souls College and the Codrington legacy
All Souls College is undertaking further academic initiatives and forms of memorialisation to address the Codrington legacy.
Christopher Codrington, a former Fellow of All Souls, died in 1710, leaving a bequest of £10,000 to the College for building a new library and stocking it with books. Codrington’s wealth derived largely from the West Indies, where he and his forebears owned plantations worked by enslaved people of African descent.
In 2017 All Souls erected a large plaque at the entrance to the Library in memory of those who worked in slavery on the Codrington plantations. The College also set up a programme, costing up to £150,000 annually, of fully funded graduate studentships at Oxford for students from the Caribbean, and made a five-year grant of financial support to Codrington College in Barbados.
In November 2020 the College decided to cease to refer to the Library as 'the Codrington Library' and, while retaining the statue of Codrington, to investigate further forms of memorialisation and contextualisation, which will draw attention to the labour of enslaved people on the Codrington plantations, and express the College’s abhorrence of slavery.
The College will now make the Library anteroom, through which users pass, a zone for contextualisation. Digital technologies will facilitate the exhibition of a wide and flexible range of historical, literary and artistic material. In the main body of the Library, the statue will be contextualised by digital display stands and by technology allowing for the projection of words or images onto the statue itself.
The College’s Governing Body has also agreed further academic initiatives, including:
- A donation of £1 million over ten years to Oxford University’s new Black Academic Futures programme to support UK graduate students who are of Black or Mixed-Black ethnicity
- Further financial support to Codrington College in Barbados
- An annual lecture on the modern Atlantic World with reference to slavery and colonialism
- A programme of visiting fellowships and travel grants enabling Caribbean researchers to come to Oxford.
15 June 2021