Sussex

Sussex music hall singers' 'offensive' gravestones covered

Covered gravestones Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption Both music hall singers, who wore blackface, died in 1962

A church has covered up headstones on the graves of two music hall singers because of their "offensive" language.

The gravestones of G H Elliott and Alice Banford, who both wore blackface, are now covered at St Margaret's Church in Rottingdean.

Archdeacon Martin Lloyd Williams said work was ongoing to identify and contact the relatives who owned the headstones at the church in Sussex.

"Meanwhile, the headstones have been temporarily covered up," he said.

Elliott and Banford both died in 1962.

The Archdeacon for Brighton and Lewes said: "I find the inscription on these two headstones deeply offensive and am sure that the vast majority of people would agree and would want it changed.

"Over the last few months, investigations have been underway as to the legal and other considerations around seeking a solution, not least seeking to identify and contact the next of kin who own the headstones."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A statue of Winston Churchill has been fully encased in London

A debate began about the portrayal of characters from different ethnic backgrounds following widespread Black Lives Matter protests over the death of George Floyd in the US.

TV shows and films - including Little Britain and Gone with the Wind - have been withdrawn and several performers have recently issued apologies.

Meanwhile, statues are being removed across the UK after a statue of a slave trader was torn down during an anti-racism protest in Bristol, followed by the targeting of other monuments.

Monuments have since been boarded up ahead of planned protests in central London.

They include statues of both Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela and the Cenotaph, Whitehall's memorial to Britain's war dead.

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