England Spotlights Oscar Wilde’s Home, LGBT Landmarks, To Honor Nation’s Queer History

The Pride of Place initiative honors the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality.

Six LGBT venues are being recognized by the English government this month for their contributions to LGBT history.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Britain’s Historic England, explained that the Pride of Place initiative is meant to mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in the country.

“Too often, the influence of men and women who helped build our nation has been ignored, underestimated or is simply unknown, because they belonged to minority groups,” he said.

circa 1910:  Exterior of Oscar Wilde's residence, 16 Tite Street, Chelsea, London.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Among the landmarks being honored are the homes of playwright Oscar Wilde, composer Benjamin Britten and writer Anne Lister, considered the “first modern lesbian.”

“Our Pride of Place project is one step on the road to better understanding just what a diverse nation we are, and have been for many centuries,” said Wilson. “At a time when historic LGBTQ venues are under particular threat, this is an important step.”

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY MOHAMMED ABBAS A general view of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in south London on July 18, 2015. London is one of the world's most gay-friendly cities, and many LGBT people feel welcome in mainstream establishments. Many gay people are frequenting mainstream venues amid an atmosphere of greater tolerance. Others are ditching bars and clubs altogether, and with the proliferation of dating websites and mobile phone apps, are choosing to make contacts online. AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'N        (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images

London’s famed Royal Vauxhall Tavern, an iconic gay bar under threat of closure, was granted landmark status in 2015.

Also recognized is the Burdett-Coutts Memorial in North London, which commemorates 18th-century spy Chevalier d’Eon, who infiltrated the court of Russia’s Empress Elizabeth by presenting as a woman.

Another venue, St. Ann’s Court in Surrey, the former home of landscape designer Christopher Tunnard and his partner Gerald Schlesinger, is described as an example of “queer architecture.”

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According to The Guardian, “it was designed with a master bedroom that could be separated into two, so visitors assumed the two men slept separately.”

Pride of Place lead researcher Alison Oram said her team hopes the initiative “will lead to more historic places being publicly valued and protected for their important queer histories.”

Matthew Tharrett is a writer, filmmaker, and above all else, a Britney fan. He once shared a milkshake with Selena Gomez.
@mattharrett