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EXILE installation marks fifty years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality

A bold new installation at the National Trust’s Kingston Lacy in Dorset and involving researchers from our School of Museum Studies marks fifty years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality.

It examines the exile of former owner William John Bankes and reveals both its significance for understanding the house that is seen today and its relationship to the ongoing challenges faced by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LBGTQ) community.

The programme has been researched and developed by our Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) in collaboration with the National Trust and with support from Stonewall.

William John Bankes, explorer, scholar and art collector, inherited Kingston Lacy in 1834 and set about transforming the house into a Venetian Renaissance palazzo.

In 1841 he was caught with a soldier in ‘an indecent act’ at a time when intimate relationships between men could be punishable by death, and subsequently left for exile in France and later Italy.

The installation at Kingston Lacy is part of the National Trust’s ‘Prejudice & Pride’ programme which is celebrating the stories of LGBTQ people at a number of its places and acknowledging the contributions they have made to history and society.

You can watch a video about the project below:

Professor Richard Sandell of the University of Leicester’s Research Centre for Museums and Galleries says: “Historic sites hold enormous potential to tell stories that not only illuminate our understanding of the past but which also offer us opportunities to look differently at the world today.  Our collective aim in researching and developing EXILE has been to offer visitors an enhanced appreciation of the house and its beautiful collections but also the chance to reflect on how that history is entwined with a bigger, ongoing story about the law and LGBTQ equality.”

Entry is by timed entry tickets. For opening times, booking information and further details www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kingston-lacy or phone on 0344 249 1895.

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