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Heritage Fund grant for transformational project

Updated: Mar 26

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Dr Johnson House Trust has received nearly £100,000 in support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for a transformational project that will diversify and expand their programming and outreach, as well as enhance their infrastructure, sustainability and accessibility.

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, this funding will allow the Trust to expand its visitor programmes and learning outreach to engage a much broader and more diverse audience. Activities such as a mentored debating club for teens and collaborations with a diverse range of heritage and community organisations. They will also be able to strategically plan for a more resilient and sustainable future. Dr Johnson’s House was the home of Samuel Johnson who played a significant role in language and literature. His Grade I-listed home is a remarkably intact 17th-century building that has multiple stories to tell. It was the setting of his groundbreaking Dictionary of the English Language of 1755 but also his struggles with poverty, disability, and prejudice. There are also stories connected to his household such as Francis Barber who was born into slavery and later sent to Gough Square aged 10, where he lived as a free man and ultimately became England’s first recorded black schoolmaster and Johnson’s heir, and Anna Williams, one of many female intellectuals championed by Johnson who was welcomed into his home when she lost her sight.

Commenting on the award, Trust Chair Stephen Clarke said: “Johnson and his circle of friends offer myriad stories with strong resonance for social issues in 21st-century life, including: friendship and grief; power and slavery; gender and identity; disability, mental and physical health; and Black British history. This support from the National Lottery players will enable us to realise the potential of this most evocative of settings, harnessing its historic role in language and literature to inspire and reach out to a far wider and more diverse public than ever before.”

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