To commemorate members of the British race


By Michael Rank

I turned tourist at Westminster Abbey today, hoping to visit the College Garden on one of the rare days it’s open to the public as it’s Open Garden Weekend this weekend. But it turned out that it’s only open on Sunday, so I will have to go back tomorrow. I did visit the cloisters, however, and was surprised to see these two plaques, dedicated to members of the British race. I was very surprised that such language was used as recently as 1957/60, with its deeply unpleasant racist undertones. The plaques explicitly wish us to remember only the British who died in those countries, and to hell (so to speak) to anyone with a darker skin. How inappropriate this now seems for a church (and this is not just any old church), but clearly 50 or 60 years ago this didn’t occur to anyone, or at least not the kind of people who design plaques for Westminster Abbey.