Autumn season of events celebrates human dignity

Tuesday, 26th September 2023

Several statues and busts in Poets' Corner

A new season of events at Westminster Abbey this autumn, Dignity, will remember those whose impact on national life may have been overlooked or forgotten.

The season aims to focus on the inherent value of every individual as given by God, and to help shape a future where dignity and respect will prevail. It includes special talks, tours, family events, and a Sunday sermon series. Highlights include:

Paterson Joseph presents The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho

Paterson Joseph, actor and author, will be performing excerpts from his award-winning novel, The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho on Thursday 12th October at 6.30 pm in St Margaret’s Church, presented in partnership with the Thorney Island Society. Ignatius Sancho (c. 1729-1780) was a Georgian man of letters who escaped from a background of slavery, and rose to distinction in Georgian London.

Amongst his other achievements as a writer, composer, actor and abolitionist, he is thought to be the first man of African descent to have voted in an election, and to have an obituary published in the national press. The performance is taking place in the church where some of the most significant moments of Sancho’s life took place. It is where he married Anne Osborne in December 1758, and where their eight children were baptised.

Sermon Series: Noble Army of Martyrs

The lives and legacies of persecuted Christians in the 20th century including Dr Martin Luther King, Saint Oscar Romero, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Elizabeth of Russia will feature in sermons on selected Sundays during Evensong at 3.00 pm in the Abbey until 17th December, preached by the Dean of Westminster, and the Abbey’s Canons.

They will mark the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the Twentieth Century Martyrs – ten statues above the Abbey’s West Door representing all who have been oppressed or persecuted for their faith.

Guided tours: Have Your Say

There will be new guided tours for visitors who would like to explore and discover the Abbey’s memorials which are dedicated to those who have worked towards dignity for all. These active tours will encourage conversation, participation and discussion as they embark on an immersive journey into global history. These tours aim to decode the tales etched in stone, honouring champions of dignity, freedom, and equality. Mondays to Fridays, from 16th October – 1st December, various times.

Abbey Late: Exploring memorials

An Abbey Late on Wednesday 18th October, 4.30pm – 7.00pm, will feature poet Bella Cox performing poems in Poets’ Corner on the themes of Commonwealth, migration and music and talking to visitors about what the Abbey means to them. Visitors will be able to explore and focus on a few chosen memorials to decode the symbols and meaning behind them.

There will also the opportunity to create a memorial statue in the Abbey using props for a unique photo. And, to write an inscription for a memory tree dedicated to a person you think deserves a memorial inside the Abbey.

Other events

There will also be events for families to enjoy: Living Memory on Saturday 21st October and Saturday 18th November, 10.00am – 2.00 pm, when families can take a closer look at the Abbey monuments whilst creating their own legacy by diving into a collection of props, wigs and costumes to create magnificent memories.

And, during October half-term: Monumental Memories from 24th October – 26th October, 10.00am – 2.00pm, when families are invited to get inspired by the Abbey statues and investigate symbols and postures, explore exciting stories, dress up and create dynamic family portraits.