All God’s Children

That’s the name of an exhibition being launched this month at Bristol Cathedral as part of the church’s work to understand its links with the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

I know l don’t normally step outside of Bath but this is an important subject that has already been acknowledged here in Bath where the Abbey recently launched a website – – containing information on the city’s links.

The Bath Abbey exhibition of 2021

Last year it staged an exhibition dedicated to people with links. Two hundred out of about 1500 monuments in the Abbey include memorials to plantation owners and slave traders.

In Bristol, research at the Cathedral has come up with a similar number. Two hundred memorials and grave markers have been found to have connections with the Transatlantic trade of enslaved people.

The church launches a new exhibition, All God’s Children, as part of its work to understand its links with the transatlantic trade of enslaved people.

Research that informed the exhibition discovered that between 1670 and 1900, roughly 1,000 people were buried or memorialised in the Cathedral and its grounds. Around 200 (20%) of them had a close connection to the slavery-based economy.

All God’s Children is an exhibition in two parts; 

  • Inside the Cathedral, exploring the Cathedral’s connections with the transatlantic trade of enslaved people through its memorials and grave markers. 
  • On College Green, featuring portraits of and remarks, comments or questions from Christians in Bristol, some of whom live with the legacy of slavery and experience the reality of racism in their everyday lives. The portraits displayed were taken by Garfield McKenzie. Garfield has worked in many areas of photography, but his passion has always been people, capturing them in as natural, relaxed manner as possible. He has made it his life’s work to portray the beauty, dignity and multi-faceted nature of members of the African family, countering the often one-dimensional, negative images portrayed in the West.

At the end of the exhibition everyone is invited to comment, reflect and feedback about what they think the Cathedral should do next. For example; 

  • Should the Cathedral have a permanent exhibition explaining its links to the slave trade? 
  • Should the Cathedral remove some or all of its monuments with a connection to the slave trade? 
  • Should a monument be commissioned that remembers those who were trafficked, suffered or died as a result of the Transatlantic slave trade? 
  • What is the Cathedral’s role in countering racism in the church and our community today?

We hope that the exhibition will inform a wide-ranging conversation about the stories we tell in the Cathedral, the ways in which we can repair and restore damaged relationships and the ways we can work together for a better future for everyone. 

Details for visitors:

There is no charge to visit the exhibition or the Cathedral.

The exhibition in the Cathedral will be on display from 23rd August –21st October. It will be available whenever the Cathedral is open. Visit for latest updates.

The exhibition on College Green will be on display from 24th August – 29th September. Available 24/7.

The Very Revd Dr Mandy Ford, Dean of Bristol said:

“For too long, the church has ignored, hidden or denied the experience of God’s captured, trafficked and enslaved children. Before we can work together for a better future we need to tell the truth about the past and this exhibition is the beginning of that truth-telling at Bristol Cathedral.

It is painful for those who suffer the intergenerational trauma of slavery and racism and painful for those of us who feel shame and guilt for past and present sins. We want to hear many voices in response to this exhibition as we look to a future in which Bristol Cathedral is a safe and hospitable place for All God’s Children.