Plaque commemorating Cecil Rhodes receives Grade II listed status – despite being near controversial statue

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A university plaque commemorating imperialist Cecil Rhodes has been given Grade II listed status – despite being near a statue that sparked protests.

The monument, which says it was erected to recognise “the great services rendered by Cecil Rhodes”, stands at Oriel College on High Street within the University of Oxford.

The Oriel College memorial is in King Edward Street off the High Street, near the statue that sparked years of protests by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign.

Oxford Mail:

It has been given listed status by the Government despite campaigners proclaiming Rhodes was steeped in colonialism, racism and represented white supremacy.

Historic England previously said the plaque, which stands on the building named after Rhodes at the college, did not merit legal protection.

But the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) said culture secretary Nadine Dorries felt it to be of “special historic interest”.

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Rhodes, a 19th Century merchant and politician in southern Africa, was a student at Oriel and left the college £100,000 when he died in 1902.

In June, DCMS said Ms Dorries was “minded” to give the plaque listed status because of its “special and architectural and historic interest.”

It has since been officially given Grade II listed status by Historic England.

A DCMS spokesperson said: “We are committed to retaining and explaining our heritage so people can examine all parts of Britain’s history and understand our shared past.”

The plaque, by Onslow Whiting, has been in place since 1906 and was paid for by Sir Alfred Mosely, a Hatton Garden diamond merchant.

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In February 2020 Historic England recommended the bronze memorial lacked a “richness of detail” to make it of national interest.

The following year Oriel’s governing body had said it wished to remove the plaque and a statue of Rhodes in High Street.

That decision was backed by the independent commission appointed to examine its future and Rhodes’ legacy.

But the college later said it would not seek to move them due to costs and “complex” planning processes.

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