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Sell the silver
I refer to the recent letter from Cicely Gill expressing dismay at the presence in Brodick Castle of the Beckford Room, and the reply from Jennifer Williams published last week, Friday July 10.
The Beckford Room contains items collected with the profits of slave-worked sugar plantations in Jamaica owned by the occupant of the castle at the time including a large collection of silver.
Jennifer believes that we need to keep these artifacts, in order to learn from the mistakes of our past. I fully agree that we must learn from our shameful history, but I disagree that the castle is providing this opportunity for learning. There can be no way to learn about the wrongs of slavery when looking at the Beckford Silver, as there is no relevant information or interpretation present as part of the display. The atmosphere is one of ‘come and look at our beautiful and valuable silverware’.
I find the ostentatious display of wealth in the castle distasteful in any case, aside from the immoral origins of many of the artifacts displayed there. In our society, if you steal wealth or life from others, you are expected to pay penance either through fines, time in prison or community service. There is no way to give back the lives stolen by the slave labour on which the Beckford wealth was amassed, but I suggest that the silver be sold, and the proceeds used to pay the NTS Rangers whose jobs are currently under threat on the island. We could choose to keep useful and valuable people on the island instead of some old silverware that nobody uses anymore and was bought with dirty money.
That way we can show that we have learned from the past, and now value people over possessions.
Like many, I was moved by the letter from long time Arran resident Cicely Gill about her family connection, as victims of slavery, to the Beckford Collection of very dubiously acquired silverware in the care of NTS in Brodick Castle.
I was also heartened by the subsequent correspondence from Malcolm Kerr and others. I am, however surprised that Cicely’s important story was not picked up by the media nationally – it certainly deserved to be. Where though is the response from NTS? I recently watched a repeat of BBC Scotland’s documentary, Scotland and the Slave Trade, where a NTS representative specifically said that the matter of the slavery connection with Brodick Castle and other of their properties would be addressed – and this was originally broadcast in November 2018.
Perhaps these are questions you might have asked from an editorial point of view given the current prominence and importance of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Really in agreement
I would like to reassure Jennifer Williams (Lessons from the Past, July 10) that I have no plans to attack Brodick Castle, remove the Beckford silver and pitch it to the bottom of Brodick harbour – it has my father’s name on it after all!
I assume Ms Williams is taking exception to where I say in my letter of June 19, ‘we have no statues on Arran to ask the council to remove but we do have Brodick Castle’ and I can see she has a point, though removing Brodick Castle would be a tough call for anyone to undertake!
However, I think the statue topplings were an emotional response to hundreds of years of injustice. Black Bristolians have testified to the pain the Colston statue caused them as they passed it on a daily basis.
Now things have settled somewhat: some statues are going to museums, some are remaining in situ. All are to have honest explanatory plaques. That was what I was suggesting was essential for the Beckford room.
Please Ms Williams, read the last paragraph again of my original letter. I think we are really in agreement: a lot more of our history needs to be understood to engender the kindness our world lacks at present.
I was able to travel over to Arran on Monday, the first time this year. On Monday I went for a walk to ‘Black Rock’ a place I am very fond of. Walking from the road down to the rocks I noticed what I thought was some litter and my immediate thought was why do people drop litter, on going to pick it up I noticed it was a £10 note and a short distance I noticed a second £10. I handed the £20 pounds into Lamlash police office. If you are the person who has lost this money it is there.
What a joy to be able to return to this most beautiful island, an island I have been coming to for in excess of 70 years.
R Allan Richardson,
As with so many events and shows this year, the Arran Horticultural Society cancelled this year’s summer show. However, as we did in lieu of of the spring show, we’re going to ask you all to post your photos of what you would have entered onto the AHS Facebook page! Of fruit, vegetables, potted plants, cut flowers, decorative pieces, and photos of your baking, produce and/or handcrafts,
And children, we would love to see photos of your posies, bouquets, home-made toys, edible necklaces, and maybe even, a garden in a tray. There will be no judging or prizes, this is all a bit of fun to share in these difficult times. Please post your photo’s directly to www.facebook.com/Arran Horticultural Society/
Please help us add colour to all the rainbows as we slowly come out of lockdown.
John Sillars, president,
Arran Horticultural Society.
Happy anniversary reopening
Alice Anderson held a small socially distanced celebration to mark the 40 anniversary of her Brae Salon in Blackwaterfoot, as reported in last week’s Banner. She is seen here outside with husband William and daughters Dawn and Faye. The salon reopened on Wednesday. NO_B28brae01