The consistory court of the diocese of Ely has refused to grant the petition of Jesus College, Cambridge, for a faculty authorising the removal of a memorial dedicated to a benefactor of the college, Tobias Rustat (1608-94), from the west wall of the Grade I listed college chapel.
The petition, which had been supported by both the Dean of Chapel and the Bishop of Ely, was heard by the Deputy Chancellor, the Worshipful David Hodge QC (News, 25 January). It had been advanced on the basis that any harm caused to the significance of the chapel as a building of special architectural and historic interest by the removal of the memorial was substantially outweighed by the resulting public benefits in terms of pastoral well-being and opportunities for mission.
The college contended that, because of Rustat’s known involvement in the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans, the continued presence of his memorial in such a prominent position, high up on the west wall, created a serious obstacle to the chapel’s ability to provide a credible Christian ministry and witness to the college community and a safe space for secular college functions and events.
Ranged against the college were 65 parties opponent to the petition, represented in court by Justin Gau. Another party opponent, Professor Lawrence Goldman, appeared in person, and two other parties opponent were neither present nor represented. The parties opponent contended that the court should give no weight to the petition since it was the product of a false narrative that Rustat amassed most of his wealth from the slave trade and used moneys from that source to benefit the college.
Detailed report from the hearing here, which concluded that the memorial should stay and that the college should not have allowed a ‘false narrative’ about Rustat to spread uncheckedhttps://t.co/ng90NXgLXm
— Madeleine Davies (@MadsDavies) March 23, 2022