England Recognizes LGBTQ Historical Sites

Historic England is an organization that provides legal protection to buildings and sites of historic significance.  Last year, the organization added buildings and sites to their registry that showcase “queer history.”  Duncan Wilson, the chief executive of Historic England, said that the decision was “part of a deliberate policy of looking at what we protect and commemorate by a listing, to see that it is more representative of society as a whole.”

This year, Historic England announced six buildings and sites that they are preserving for LGBTQ history.

1. Amelia Edward’s Grave Amelia Edwards was a writer, musician and founder of Egyptology in St. Mary’s Churchyard in Bristol.  She lived with her partner, Ellen Braysher, in Weston-super-Mare.  Edwards died of pneumonia in 1892, a few months after Braysher’s death.

2. The Burdett-Coutts Memorial The Burdett-Coutts Memorialat located at St. Pancras Gardens in London, commemorates the Chevalier d’Eon.  The Chevalier d’Eon was sent to Russia as a spy, fought in the Seven Years’ War and was a diplomat that helped negotiated the treaty that ended war between Britain and France. The Chevalier lived the first part of his life as a man, and the last few decades as a woman. This remarkable story has inspired art and plays.

3. 34 Tite Street The house at 34 Tite Street, in the Chelsea neighborhood of London, once housed Oscar Wilde, his wife, Constance Lloyd, and their two children. In 1895, Wilde was put on trial for “gross indecency.” He was convicted of having sex with men and sentenced to two years of hard labor.  The law under which he was convicted was not repealed until 2003. The house, which has a blue plaque outside, is still a private residence.

4. Red House The Red House, located in Aldeburgh, which is a town on the east coast of England, was home to Benjamin Britten and his partner, the tenor Peter Pears. They lived together there from 1957 until Britten’s death in 1976. The house, run by the Britten-Pears Foundation, is open to the public.

5. Shibden Hall Shibden Hall is located in Halifax in West Yorkshire and was the home of Anne Lister. Lister was a landowner who kept diaries.  Part of these diaries were in code to cover up her relationships with women.  She lived in the house for several years with her partner, Ann Walker.

6. St. Ann’s Court St. Ann’s Court, located in Chertsey, which is a suburban town in Surrey.  This house has been called an example of “queer architecture” by Historic England. The house was built between 1936 and 1937 and designed by Geraldd Schlesinger and Christopher Tunnard. The gay couple designed the house in response to laws that made homosexual sex a crime, even in the privacy of one’s home. So the home’s master bedroom could be separated into two, which lead visitors to believe that the two men slept separately.

The United States has also begun to recognize LGBTQ historical sites. President Obama designated the Stonewall Inn as a national monument in June 2016.  The Stonewall Inn was the location of a 1969 police raid and then protest that spear headed the LGBTQ rights movement.

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