Explore the BBC

28 October 2014
BBC Leicester BBC Leicester
BBC Leicester

BBC Homepage
» Leicester
Going Out
Have Your Say
Sense of Place
Around Leicester
Site Map

Contact Us

Freedom from slavery

Rothley Court in Leicestershire, as well as having strong connections with the Knights Templar, is regarded as the `cradle' of England's anti-slavery laws.

Rothley Court line
Rothley Court  

Rasselas Morjan, one of the first slaves to be freed in Victorian Britain, was given his freedom by the Palmer family of Wanlip in Leicestershire.

His gravestone at Our Lady and St. Nicholas Church in Wanlip records that Rasselas Morjan was born in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), and died in 1830 at the tender age of nineteen.

An exhibition and dramatic performance about Morjan took place in Leicester in November 2000, when a memorial service was also held, at the graveside. The Rev Malcolm Lambert conducted the service, and a wreath was laid by the side of Morjan's tombstone.

Wanli[p Chrch

Wanlip Church

Rothley, home of the enlightened Palmer family, is still a quiet village to the east of the Charnwood Forest, originally built around Rothley Brook. There's plenty of history in the area, including Norman architecture in the church and a 9th century Saxon Cross in the churchyard.

The Knights Templar used Rothley Court, which is now an hotel, and the 13th Century chapel in the building can still be visited. Lord Macaulay was born at the Court on 25th October 1800. He, together with Lord Wilberforce, was to become one of the most significant reformers working towards the abolition of slavery.

More facts button

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy