15 October 2021
A blue plaque to mark the life of William Wilberforce MP (1759-1833) at Marden Park, now home to Woldingham School, was unveiled by Claire Coutinho, MP for East Surrey, on Friday 15 October (pictured with Woldingham Head Dr James Whitehead and Head Girl Desiree).
As a leading campaigner for the abolition of the slave trade and slavery, the day to mark Wilberforce’s time here was chosen in the run up to Anti-slavery Day on Monday 18 October, which aims to raise awareness of human trafficking and modern slavery nearly 200 years after Wilberforce’s death.
Wilberforce lived at Marden Park for two years near the end of his life from 1821-23. It’s reported that Wilberforce said it was ‘one of the prettiest spots that I ever saw’.
As well as welcoming Ms Coutinho to Woldingham for the first time, we were delighted that Mrs Carol Wates, a relative of Wilberforce, and her husband John were able to join us for the unveiling as well as Cllr Wren, Cllr North and Cllr Rush, Sixth Form students taking A Levels in history and politics, as well as a number of other special guests.
Thank you to everyone who was able to join us for the unveiling. The blue plaque will be a lasting reminder of the life of Wilberforce, who was such an important figure in history.
Look out for a special feature on William Wilberforce in the annual Woldingham Magazine, which will be published later this autumn, by teacher of history Mr Hugh Patterson.