Accentuate History of Place

Accentuate History of Place Success

Screen South, is delighted to announce that it has received a grant of £878,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Accentuate History of Place project. Keep up to date with this project through the website www.historyof.place and on twitter @H_O_P

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Mural of Edward Rushton on the ceiling at The Liverpool School for the Blind

Accentuate History of Place will be a nationally significant social history programme which will chart disabled people’s lives from the middle ages until the late 20th Century in relation to built heritage. The Accentuate History of Place project will investigate and animate eight important built heritage sites, with the objective of elevating this history to greater prominence.  The sites include:

  • Maison Dieu, Kent – The last remaining building from a Medieval alms house & hospital, on the pilgrimage route to Canterbury, where records of a skeleton of a severely disabled man aged 35-45 have recently been uncovered;
  • The Liverpool School for the Indigent Blind, established in 1791 by the groundbreaking abolitionist Edward Rushton, was the first specialist school for the blind in the country, second in the world after Paris.
  • The Royal School for Deaf Children, Margate (previously the London Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb) was the UK’s first public school for deaf children founded in 1792.
  • Chiswick House, the stately home, has a hidden history of being a private Asylum during the late 1890’s.
  • Normansfield Asylum and Theatre, Teddington, was the home and institution developed by Dr John Langdon Down where he built a beautiful Victorian theatre (now a grade 11 listed building) and encouraged learning disabled people to learn music and drama as part of their education.
  • St Saviours Deaf Church, Acton, was the first Church specifically designed by Deaf people in the 1920’s, with unique architectural features such as raked seating.
  • The Guild of the Brave Poor Things, Bristol, opened in 1913 and was the first building designed for disabled people to come together socially, as well as providing apprenticeship schemes and training.
  • Grove Road Housing Scheme, Sutton in Ashfield. In 1976, Ken and Maggie Davis were the first disabled couple to commission an Architect to design and build an accessible housing scheme for disabled people to live independently outside of Institutions.  Their story is fundamentally important in the history of the disability rights movement.

There will be opportunities for local people across the country to take part in workshops exploring archive material relating to the sites, attend events, talks and local exhibitions.  There will also be a national touring exhibition in partnership with three major Museums across England and multi-layered website resource to raise the profile of this relatively hidden history.  Alongside this activity Accentuate will deliver training for heritage volunteers and staff in low cost solutions for making heritage sites and events more accessible to deaf and disabled visitors.

Accentuate History of Place will be developed as part of the Accentuate programme, which operates as a specialist agency within Screen South, challenging perceptions of disability by providing life changing opportunities for disabled people in the cultural sector.

Accentuate has developed this project in partnership with Historic England and will link to their newly established disability history website resource – Disability In Time and Place – which currently features over 200 sites of historic importance.  Accentuate History of Place will allow the voices of disabled people from the past to tell their stories through the buildings and archive material. In doing so the project will challenge and delight audiences and encourage a greater understanding of what it meant to be a disabled person from the 1100’s to the 1970’s.

Esther Fox, Accentuate Programme Executive said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support.  This is the first project that will investigate the lives of the deaf and disabled people who have designed or inhabited these spaces.  It will inspire understanding that disabled people have been actively part of society from the Medieval times to the present day.  We want to ensure that this relatively hidden history is known by the wider public.”

Rosie Sherrington, Social Inclusion and Diversity Advisor, Historic England said ‘I’m so happy to see this project given the green light. It will build on the research that Historic England did for Disability in Time and Place and take it to a wider audience in a meaningful and creative way. I can’t wait to see the results!’

“Screen South is delighted to be enhancing the national profile of disability heritage and building on the experience and legacy of 2012 with such a groundbreaking programme” Jo Nolan MD, Screen South.

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