Education

Stephen Fry reveals previously untold LGBTQ history

Stephen Fry supports University of Leicester – National Trust collaboration to tackle prejudice through a celebration of LGBTQ heritage

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 21 July 2017
Video: Stephen Fry voices support for  project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2vQGNcNtIA

Video: The Unfinished Portrait: narrated by Stephen Fry: https://youtu.be/pdgaAdhapoc
Images: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/bv8hi60sbubgf5i/AAA64kKGML06TUnFjgqzEuHba?dl=0
Stephen Fry (credit-Claire Newman Williams)

The Unfinished Portrait featuring Felbrigg volunteer, John Wing, as the Squire (Copyright: National Trust/RCMG/University of Leicester)

Felbrigg images

Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer standing in front of Felbrigg Hall (credit) National Trust
A University of Leicester project with the  National Trust is celebrating LGBTQ heritage, and will reveal new information about Felbrigg Hall’s last squire, Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer.
Stephen Fry will narrate ‘The Unfinished Portrait’, a short film about the squire’s fascinating life at the stunning hall in North Norfolk which is Fry’s favourite of all of the National Trust’s 500 sites.
The last squire was a shy, gentle man, known as ‘Bunny’ to his friends, who restored his exquisite ancestral home and bequeathed it to the nation. Although many have privately acknowledged his homosexuality, this has not been previously discussed with visitors to the Hall. Working with the staff at Felbrigg, the University of Leicester team  from the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries has uncovered new information about the squire – his poetry, scholarship and circle of friends, that has been used to create the beautiful short film, narrated by Stephen Fry.
The film uses an unusual and striking blend of live action (featuring National Trust volunteers from Felbrigg), animation and motion graphics, created by a talented team of artists and designers – Julie Howell, Tom Butler and Lea Nagano.
‘The Unfinished Portrait’ will be launched on 25 July as part of Prejudice & Pride, a programme that explores the LGBTQ heritage at over 25 places in the National Trust’s care.
This year, to mark 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, the National Trust is exploring and revealing many previously hidden LGBTQ stories across its places and has commissioned the University of Leicester’s Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) to help them achieve this.
Throughout 2017, the Trust will commemorate places which have stories to tell of the people who challenged conventional notions of gender and sexuality and who shaped the properties in which they lived.
The University of Leicester team, led by Professor Richard Sandell, is working especially closely with a number of Trust properties to not only tell previously hidden stories for the first time but to break new ground in the way those stories are researched, presented and used to engage the public in debates around contemporary LGBTQ equality.
Stephen Fry commented:
“Some have asked why Prejudice & Pride is necessary – why the lives of people who challenged conventional ideas of gender and sexuality should be made public and celebrated in this way. The answer is quite simple – to do anything less is to suggest that same-sex love and gender diversity is somehow wrong, and keeping these stories hidden only lets prejudice – past and present – go unchallenged.”
Professor Richard Sandell, from the University of Leicester, commented:
“50 years on from the partial decriminalisation it is tempting to think that LGBTQ equality has been achieved but sadly the reality is that many – especially young people – continue to face prejudice and discrimination today, sometimes with devastating consequences. We have equality in many areas of the law but there is a need to build greater public understanding which is where support from someone as well loved and respected as Stephen Fry makes a huge difference in the winning of hearts and minds.”
The film will be launched online and available for visitors to see at Felbrigg from Tuesday 25 July. A British Sign Language signed version of the film and large print and Braille copies of the script will also ensure the film is fully accessible to all visitors.
National Trust staff and volunteers from across Norfolk are also participating in Norwich Pride festival on Saturday 29 July – part of a nationwide Trust initiative to showcase Prejudice and Pride.  (Images of RCMG joining the Trust for Exeter Pride are available from the Trust).
ENDS
NOTE TO EDITORS: You can contact Richard Sandell via: rps6@le.ac.uk
Additional notes:
RESEARCH COLLABORATION
University of Leicester, Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG)
The National Trust’s ‘Prejudice & Pride’ programme is supported by a research collaboration with experts in LGBTQ heritage at the University of Leicester RCMG.  The collaboration explores how we can stimulate public debate around LGBTQ history, culture and equality through the histories and associations in the places, stories and collections of the National Trust, and how we can contribute to new thinking and practice around LGBTQ histories within the international heritage and museum field.
A short film of Richard Sandell explaining the importance of the project which has been made available across the Trust and their 60,000 volunteers is available here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfmZB0gbArY
RCMG is informing and enriching the work of properties across the UK as well as leading on the development of new interventions at a number of key sites including Felbrigg Hall and Kingston Lacy in Dorset.
The results of this work will include a publication based on the programme and an international conference in spring 2018.
http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/museumstudies/rcmg
FOR DETAILS OF ALL NATIONAL TRUST ‘PREJUDICE & PRIDE’ EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES VISIT www.nationaltrust.org.uk/prejudiceandpride
About the National Trust
The National Trust is a conservation charity founded in 1895 by three people who saw the importance of our nation’s heritage and open spaces, and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy.  More than 120 years later, these values are still at the heart of everything the charity does.
Entirely independent of Government, the National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 775 miles of coastline and hundreds of special places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. More than 20 million people visit every year, and together with 4.5 million members and over 62,000 volunteers, they help to support the charity in its work to care for special places forever, for everyone.

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