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13 November 2014

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You are in: Humber > Abolition > Abolition Architecture

Wilberforce House

Abolition Architecture

Follow in the footsteps of the abolitionists as we take a tour around the city’s Georgian period buildings.

There were a number of key figures in Hull that actively supported the anti-slavery movement during William Wilberforce’s campaign.

The city’s exquisite and long lost architecture were the base for some of these campaigners.

St. John Parish Church

The Ferens Art Gallery was once the site of a former church which figured in the evangelical movement against slavery.

St John Parish Church

An artist's representation of St John Church

The Church of St John was built by Reverend Thomas Dykes in the 1790s.

He was an evangelical Christian and a friend of William Wilberforce, who contributed to the construction of the church.

The Church opened for congregations in 1792 and in 1803 the tower and chancel were added.

Architect Cuthbert Broderick made further additions to the building in 1863.

Thomas Dykes preached at the church on many occasions and held anti-slavery sermons in the early 1800’s. His family were considered to be prominent in the movement against slavery.

Upon his death in 1847, Thomas Dykes was laid to rest in the vaults of the Church.

As the city centre expanded, people moved out of the area and congregations were held elsewhere.

As a result of this expansion, the church closed its doors in 1917 and parts of the interior were taken to the present St. John’s Church in Marfleet, before the building was demolished in the 1920’s.

The remains of Thomas Dykes and members of his family who were buried in the vaults were re-interred by a descendant in Hessle Cemetery.


The Charterhouse is a historic charitable organisation that has its origins in the 14th century, with the present buildings dating back to the 18th century.

Founded by Sir Michael de la Pole in 1384, the Charterhouse provided housing for the elderly and infirm and this continues to the present day.

Rev Thomas Dykes' memorial in Charterhouse Chapel

Rev Thomas Dykes' memorial in Charterhouse Chapel

Thomas Dykes was the master of Charterhouse between 1830 and 1840 and was prominent in the anti-slavery movement in Hull.

He preached in the Charterhouse Chapel, which represents an exquisite example of Georgian ecclesiastical architecture.

Methodist Central Hall

The original Methodist Hall was once situated on Waltham Street in Hull and was built in the early 19th century.

During that period, Methodism played a very significant role in the fight against slavery.

John Wesley and many of his supporters were at the forefront of the abolitionist movement.

Sadly the original Hall fell into decay and was demolished after the Second World War.

The current Methodist Central Hall was built in the 1960’s.

High Street/Gandthi Way

The High Street was once the hub of the city and the trading base for many of Hull’s wealthy merchants.

Business of the port was mainly conducted in their family home.

Among the leading merchants that lived on the High Street included the Wilberforces, the Maisters, the Thompsons, the Blaydes and the Sykes.

Daniel Sykes, son of Joseph, was a former MP for Hull and was prominent in the anti-slavery movement.

He was a close friend of William Wilberforce who he had met at Pocklington School.

The Blaydes family were involved in a number of maritime ventures over several generations from shipbuilding and freight shipping to rope-making.

High Street

High Street: architecture still in tact

They were the main shipbuilders in Hull during the 18th and 19th centuries and owned one of the city’s oldest shipyards on the High Street, North End Yard, which is now a disused dry dock.

The houses that were once owned and built by these leading merchants still exist today with many of the original features still in tact.

Blaydes House is a maritime research centre owned by the University of Hull.

The Wilberforce House Museum underwent a £1.6m refurbishment and reopened on March 25th 2007 to mark the bicentenary of the passing of the Parliamentary Act to abolish the transatlantic slave trade.

Maister House is owned by the National Trust and is occupied by the architect firm, Gelder & Kitchen. The lobby and hall is open to the public.

Gandthi Way, formerly known as George Yard, was once home to the George Yard Chapel, which was the centre for Methodism in Hull.

last updated: 16/09/2008 at 13:19
created: 04/06/2007

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