Church labelled ‘Birthplace of Feminism’ saved, thanks to National Lottery players
Newington Green Unitarian Church, now the home of New Unity (a non-religious church), has received initial National Lottery support of £1.85million to uncover its fascinating history of radical social reform. This Grade II listed building will now receive essential conservation work, opening it up to the wider public.
This seems to be the only remaining building that's associated with the feminist pioneer Mary Wollstonecraft. 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 of Benjamin Franklin and passionate supporter of the 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 ‘mother of feminism’.
The renovation project will celebrate the building's role in the history of rational dissent and feminism, and the continuing relevance of these ideas today. The archives will be conserved and published on a new website. An education programme will be run with local schools, alongside a public programme of talks, lectures and exhibitions. As such, the site will become a valuable educational and heritage asset for local, national and international visitors.
Rev Andy Pakula, Minister of New Unity, commented 'For 300 years, this building has been a valuable site for rational debate, dissent, activism and spiritual enquiry. Thanks to National Lottery players, we're now a step closer to preserving this unique heritage for generations to come'.
Regular updates on this project can be found on Twitter (@NGDissenters) and Facebook (facebook.com/NGDissenters).