Wilberforce House was built around 1660 and, as such, is one of the oldest buildings in Kingston-Upon-Hull, East Yorkshire, England.
Hull, as it is more commonly known locally, lies on the north bank of the River Humber, in the East Riding of the county of Yorkshire. Wilberforce House can be found along the High Street, in Hull, where there are other lovely old buildings. The lack of old buildings around Hull, in general, is in part due to the severe bombing Hull experienced during the Second World War, which was known as The Blitz.
Wilberforce House was the birthplace and childhood home of William Wilberforce, the English anti-slavery campaigner. He was born in 1759 and died in 1833. The local city council bought this property in 1903 and in 1906 it became a museum.
William Wilberforce, Man and Boy.
As a child William lived a privileged lifestyle, having wealthy parents. The family occupied the upstairs of the house whilst downstairs there was a busy counting house and offices. William would watch the sailors loading and unloading cargo onto the ships, on the River Hull, at the back of the gardens.
He was elected to parliament in the 1780's and became interested in the abolition of slavery and the slave trade. He made his first abolition speech in 1789 and, after many defeats, in 1807 the Abolition of the slave trade act was passed in England.
Wilberforce House Museum
Over the years Wilberforce House has undergone more than one set of changes. Two adjoining Georgian Houses were accquired by the council and opened as an addition to Wilberforce House, quite a few years ago now.
As a visitor to this museum since the 1950's, I found some of the current changes disappointing and not for the better. However, there are still a lot of interesting artifacts and displays.
The house itself still has pleasant gardens, is in a nice setting and has a lot of history. As the anti-slavery displays now dominate the house, it has become a bit characterless. Many of the rooms seem small now that the furniture displays have been removed and replaced with written material.
However, if you are in the area and have not visited before, this museum is still well worth a visit. The story of the History of the house, and the slave trade is well laid out, and interspersed with computer screens.
Other Hull Museums
Hull has, in addition a Transport Museum adjacent to Wilberforce House, the Hull and East Riding Museum, the Ferens Art Gallery and the Town Docks Maritime Museum. There is also the Arctic Corsair, which is an old trawler, and the Spurn Lightship which are open to the public.
Entry is free to them all but donations are welcome.
Near to the High Street there is a submarium called The Deep which has received world wide acclaim. There is an entrance fee here but it would easily offer entertainment for a full day.
It is worth noting that:-
The museums and galleries are open 7 days a week at varying times and most bank holidays.
They can be busy during the school holidays.
For a small city, with many problems, the museums and galleries of Hull are astounding and one of it's areas of excellence.
The fight to end slavery in Britain, and the colonies, continued until 26th July 1833, three days before Wilberforce's death on the 29th. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.