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'Degrading' Dunham Massey Hall statue removed

African sun dial statue Image copyright David Dixon Geograph
Image caption The statue had been in front of the Grade I listed Dunham Massey Hall near Altrincham

A "degrading" statue of a black man has been removed from the grounds of a National Trust-owned stately home.

Workers removed the Grade II listed sundial figure from in front of Dunham Massey Hall, near Altrincham in Greater Manchester on Thursday.

The trust said the early 18th Century sculpture "caused distress because of the way it depicts a black person".

It follows recent Black Lives Matter protests and toppling of a statue to slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.

The statue, which is believed to have been created by either Andries Carpentier or Jan Van Nost in the early 1700s, is described in its listing on Historic England as "a kneeling African figure clad in leaves carrying the sundial above his head".

The National Trust said it may have been one of a series representing the continents.

Image copyright Chris Lukey
Image caption Chris Lukey said he was "so pleased" it had been removed

In a statement, a trust spokesman said the statue had "caused upset and distress because of the way it depicts a black person and because of its prominence at the front of the house".

He said the charity "don't want to censor or deny the way colonial histories are woven into the fabric of our buildings", but had taken the decision to "move it safely from its previous location while we make plans to address it in a way that fully acknowledges the appalling histories of slavery and the slave trade".

Historic England said that the removal of a listed structure "would normally require listed building consent".

A spokeswoman said all decisions regarding "contested heritage need to be taken on a case by case basis".

"We welcome conversations with local communities, local authorities and owners to discuss these issues."

A spokesperson for Trafford Council said "the National Trust have written to the council's planning service to advise that the statue has been removed in order to preserve the structure".

"The council will be liaising with National Trust on the next steps," the spokesperson added.

Chris Lukey who saw it being dismantled on Thursday while walking in Dunham Park, said he was "so pleased" it had been removed as it was "degrading to black people".

The National Trust reopened Dunham Massey's deer park and car park on 3 June as the lockdown measures were eased although visitors must book tickets in advance.

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