About Wilberforce House
Located in Kingston upon Hull, Wilberforce House is the birthplace of William Wilberforce, the British politician, social reformer and remarkable abolitionist.
Wilberforce House history
After a two-year redevelopment, Wilberforce House re-opened on 25 March 2007, just in time for the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in Britain. As the MP for Kingston upon Hull and subsequently Yorkshire in the late-18th and early-19th century, Wilberforce became hugely influential in the process of ensuring an abolition bill was brought to and passed in parliament.
Since his youthful days as a politician and student, Wilberforce had always been interested in social reform. Yet it was not until Thomas Clarkson (a prominent abolitionist at the time) brought physical and written evidence demonstrating the brutality of slave trade to his attention, that Wilberforce became committed to the anti-slavery cause.
The trafficking of Africans across the Atlantic and the institution of slavery itself were both morally reprehensible and so he fought tirelessly throughout the last decade of the 18th century to bring forward motions for abolition bills in Parliament. He was the voice of the cause where it truly mattered – in government.
Despite multiple setbacks, Wilberforce’s bill to terminate Britain’s slave trade eventually passed in the House of Commons and was given royal assent on the 25 March 1807.
Once the slave trade had been abolished, Wilberforce set his sights on abolishing the institution of slavery itself in British dominions. He became a founding member of the Anti-Slavery Society in 1823 and wrote his famous Appeal in the same year, a treatise in which Wilberforce urged that total emancipation was morally and ethically required, and that slavery was a national crime that must be ended by parliamentary legislation.
Although emancipation was resisted in government for ten years, Wilberforce’s efforts were not in vain. A month after his death in London on the 29 July 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 was passed.
Wilberforce House today
Today Wilberforce House museum tells the story of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the crucial role Wilberforce played in its eventual abolition.
The front garden to the museum contains a statue of Wilberforce which underwent a £10,000 restoration in 2011. The statue is now recorded in the National Heritage List for England, maintained by Historic England.
Adjoining the site is Oriel Chambers, the home of the University of Hull’s “Wilberforce Institute” for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation which conducts research into historic and contemporary forms of slavery.
The museum also contains galleries that offer a fascinating glimpse into West African culture. Extra exhibits include the East Yorkshire regimental collection.
Getting to Wilberforce House
Wilberforce House is in the Museums Quarter on High Street in Hull’s Old Town. It is near the Streetlife and Hull and East Riding Museums, next to the River Hull.
If you are driving to this location, pay and display parking is available in Lowgate Car Park – just opposite Wilberforce House, less than 100 metre down the road. There is also on street blue badge parking on Gandhi Way (formerly George Yard) approximately 50 metres away from the entrance to the museum and Alfred Gelder Street (opposite the White Hart pub).
Hull bus and train station (Paragon Interchange) is a 15 – 20 minute walk away. The nearest bus stop is Myton Bridge on Alfred Gelder Street.
Historic Slavery Sites in the United Kingdom
Discover crucial histories of slavery at these sites around the UK, from the International Slavery Museum at Royal Albert Dock in Liverpool to the Buxton Memorial Fountain outside the Palace of Westminster.