What's On

(Zanzibar's Story)

(Shakespeare 400)


Reading Circle

Past Exhibitions

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Sloane's Jamaica: Britain's key to the Americas in the 18th century

A talk by Jonathan King
Thursday 4 February, 7pm (doors open 6.15pm)

Jonathan King, Von Hűgel Research Fellow at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, will discuss Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) who, with Newton, dominated science in London during the first half of the 18th century.

As a physician Sloane visited Jamaica in the 1680s, publishing two volumes of descriptive research, Voyage to Jamaica in 1707 and 1725. These constitute the first scientific accounts published in Britain about tropical America. They also provide an extraordinary insight into the island and its inhabitants at this time, African and European. Among other things Sloane published the first African American music, recorded from people from the Congo and Ghana.

Tickets: £10
Booking required

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Jonathan King is a museum anthropologist interested in the history of ideas and institutions, and in collecting.  His recent publications include collaborative edited volumes about Turquoise (2012), Extreme Collecting (2012), Woodlands Art (2006) and Arctic Clothing (2005); Blood and Land: Ways of Seeing Native North America will be published in August 2016. While at the British Museum (1975-2012) he worked on the collections created by the Museum's founder, Sir Hans Sloane.

Map of Jamaica 1747

A map of Jamaica, 1747

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‘Silver padlocks for Blacks or Dogs; collars, & c.’: Lapdogs, black servants and slavery in the 18th century

A lunchtime talk by Stephanie Howard-Smith
Saturday 20 February, 2pm

Stephanie Howard-Smith, PhD student at Queen Mary University of London, will explore the association between black servants and lapdogs in 18th-century Europe.

Lapdogs and black manservants were considered to be essential fashion accessories for wealthy women in Georgian Britain and abroad and the two feature together countless times in porcelain figurines, frescos, portraits and satirical prints. Yet many writers and social commentators were disturbed by the poor treatment of humans compared to these spoilt and pampered pets – including the slaves whose labour on Caribbean plantations often funded the lavish lifestyle of many lapdogs.

FREE after usual admission fee
No booking required


SadnessLe Brun Travested [sic], or Caricatures of the Passions

SadnessLe Brun Travested [sic], or
Caricatures of the Passions
2004,1130.46, AN184062001
© Trustees of the British Museum

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Christ Church Cathedral and World Monuments Fund Britain

A talk by Andrew Rye
Wednesday 24 February, 7pm (doors open at 6.15pm)

Discover the remarkable story of Christ Church Cathedral, Zanzibar, built in 1879 on the site of the last permanent slave market in East Africa, and World Monument's Fund Britain's current European Union funded project to conserve the building.

To accompany 'Zanzibar's Story' in its final venue at Dr Johnson's House, Andrew Rye, Development Manager at WMFB, will discuss the history of Christ Church Cathedral and WMFB's plans to create an education centre commemorating the abolition of slavery on such a site of cultural significance.

The evening includes the oportunity to visit 'Zanzibar's Story' and all four floors of Johnson's Georgian townhouse, including our current displays highlighting Johnson's views on slavery.

Tickets: £10 (includes a complimentary glass of wine)
Booking required

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Christ Church Cathedral Zanzibar

Christ Church Cathedral © WMF Britain

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Slave and Master: Breaking the Chains

A talk by Ian Foster
Wednesday 2 March, 7pm (doors open 6.15pm)

By the time Francis Barber arrived in London from Jamaica in 1752, Jamaica had been at the centre of British involvement in slavery for almost a century, and the practice there had been quite different to that in the British colonies on the North American mainland.

Ian Foster will talk about the experience of Jamaican visitors to London in the late 17th and early 18th centuries and reveal how these visitors stimulated discussions about the morals of the transatlantic slave trade.

Income derived from slave labour provided the means to expand Britain's global influence in commerce, scientific research and the arts but at what cost to others? Earlier visitors from Jamaica and elsewhere had also found themselves caught in the web of money and power that dominated London life during the early 18th century.

Tickets: £10 (includes a complimentary glass of wine)
Booking required

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Ian Foster is an independent researcher with a particular interest in Sir Hans Sloane. His work has been focused on the relationship between Jamaica and the UK since the 17th century. He has given presentations on the subject at numerous UK museums and institutions including the Royal Society, Royal College of Physicians, National Portrait Gallery, National Maritime Museum, Natural History Museum and British Museum. In 2012 he organised and hosted the International Sloane Jamaica Conference in Portland, Jamaica.


18th-century creamware jug with anti-slavery emblemn

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Follow in Johnson's footsteps and explore the courts and alleys off Fleet Street with an experienced City Guide.

1st Wednesday of each month (except Jan.), 3pm

Next walks:

March 2, April 6, May 4

Groups may also book walks at alternative times. For any enquiries please contact us.

Dr Johnson's Fleet Street - Discover Johnson's life and work in and around Fleet Street and his acquaintances in the area.
Dr Johnson's City - Explore the Fleet Valley, Ludgate Hill and St Paul's Churchyard areas as Johnson knew them.

£5/£4 concessions. No booking required. Meet outside Dr Johnson's House.

This is a joint venture between Dr Johnson's House and the City Guides.

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Johnson and Boswell 'Walking down the High Street' by Rowlandon

Events information

Most events sell out and tickets must be bought in advance. Card payments are processed by PayPal. We regret that we are unable to take card payments over the phone.

Customers wishing to pay by cheque should send a cheque payable to 'Dr Johnson's House Trust Ltd' to Dr Johnson's House, 17 Gough Square, London, EC4A 3DE. Please include your contact details. We will let you know when your cheque arrives.

Please note the House contains unavoidable steps. For more information about access, please visit our Facilities page.

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