Burgh church to feature in new BBC series on Britain’s Black History

A north Cumbrian church is set to feature in a new BBC historical series which explores how Africa and its people helped shape Britain.

St Michael's Burgh by Sands. Picture courtesy of Richard SpeirsA crew has already visited St Michael’s, Burgh-by-Sands, as part of the series A Black History of Britain, presented by acclaimed historian and broadcaster David Olusoga.

It follows the discovery in 1934 of a stone in Beaumont which recorded North African troops as part of the garrison of the Roman fort of Aballava in the third century. St Michael’s was later built on the site.

The crew will return next week to film the unveiling of a special plaque at the church to commemorate its links with Britain’s Black History. A second identical plaque will be installed in the church tower.

The Rev’d Tudor Boddam-Whetham, Priest-in-Charge, said “We are delighted to be celebrating our multi-cultural past in this building devoted to worshipping Jesus, who came for the benefit of people from all nations”.

Carolyne Baines, churchwarden at St Michael’s, said: “It’s been really interesting for everyone involved with St Michael’s to be a part of this documentary process.

“Ours is a church with a very rich and deep history; one that we’re delighted to be able to expand on even more through our involvement with the filming of A Black History of Britain.

“It’s amazing to think that this area, and the site if the church, has very real and national significance in the UK’s Black History.”

The two part series is due for transmission on BBC Two in November. As part of the filming 20 of the Black History plaques – celebrating people and events pivotal to Britain’s Black History - are to be unveiled across Britain, former colonies and the Commonwealth.

As well as filming in Cumbria, producers have travelled to Africa, the Caribbean and the USA, featuring the stories of the black sailors who fought under Nelson at Trafalgar and the Lancashire cotton workers who supported the abolition of African slavery.

The series provides the latest opportunity for St Michael’s to highlight its historical significance. In 2014 His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester visited the church to mark the completion of the Three Solway Churches’ Development Project which included new welcome and introduction panels detailing the building’s history.

Carolyne Baines added: “St Michael’s being on the line of Hadrian’s Wall Path and Cycle Way, we already have the joy of welcoming the many visitors who are drawn to explore the history of our building, and to share its story with them.

“This new BBC programme adds yet another layer to that rich history and is one which we are sure people will find fascinating.”

Year five and six pupils from Burgh-by-Sands Primary will also attend the plaque unveiling at St Michael’s, Burgh-by-Sands, which takes place at 12 noon on Tuesday 19 July.

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For further information contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at communications@carlislediocese.org.uk.