Church labelled ‘Birthplace of Feminism’ saved thanks to National Lottery players
Newington Green Unitarian Church (NGUC), part of New Unity, in Hackney has received initial National Lottery support of £1.85million to uncover its fascinating history of radical social reform, where the feminist ideals of Mary Wollstonecraft were born.
Currently on Historic England’s Heritage At Risk Register, the National Lottery funded project will carry out essential conservation work to one of England’s oldest Unitarian churches and open the whole building up to the public. Development funding of £123,200 has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help NGUC progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date.
220 years after her death, the Grade II listed church seems to be the only building associated with Mary Wollstonecraft that still stands. Mary moved to Newington Green at the age of 25 and her time as a congregant was undoubtedly a formative period in the development of her ideas. She was heavily influenced by preacher Dr Richard Price, a friend to Benjamin Franklin and passionate supporter of American Revolution. In 1792, Wollstonecraft published ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’. One of the first women to publish her views on the topic, the text would go on to inspire generations of campaigners for women’s rights and earn Mary the title of the Western ‘mother of feminism’.
Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the four year ‘NGUC 2020 – Recovering the Dissenters’ Legacy’ project celebrates the church’s role in the history of rational dissent and feminism, and the relevance of these ideas today. The project will conserve and digitise the NGUC’s collections, making them publically accessible on a new website. An education programme will be run with local schools, alongside a public programme of talks, lectures and exhibitions, to place the site as a valuable educational and heritage asset for local, national and international visitors.
Rev Andy Pakula, Minister of New Unity, commented: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. This Church has given people a place for spiritual enquiry, rational debate, dissent, and activism as well as for public meetings and group activities for the past 300 years. It’s great to know that, thanks to National Lottery players, we are a step closer to making this important influence available for another century or more..”
About the Heritage Lottery Fund
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Rev Andy Pakula – Minister, New Unity email@example.com 07809144879