The Equiano Family Project at St Andrew’s

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Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797) was a celebrated author and campaigner against the
transatlantic slave trade in 18th -century England. Equiano’s autobiography The interesting
narrative of the life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa the African written by himself

(1789) contributed substantially to changing perspectives on the slave trade in British
society.

Equiano’s wife, Susanna Cullen, was from Cambridgeshire. The couple had two daughters,
Anna Maria and Joanna. It is believed the children lived in Chesterton after the death of
their parents. Anna Maria died young and is buried in St Andrew’s churchyard.

For more history, visit our Olaudah Equiano page.

The Equiano Family Project

The Equiano Family Project at St Andrew’s Church is an arts, education and cultural initiative
designed to promote awareness & reflection on the Equiano family story in the Chesterton
community.

The Equiano connection with Chesterton has gained growing attention and
acknowledgement in recent years. Chesterton Community College has renamed one of its
school ‘houses’ Equiano House. A successful community campaign led to the white ‘Tesco’
bridge being renamed the ‘Equiano Bridge’ in 2022. An increasing numbers of visitors to St
Andrew’s Church and churchyard express their interest in finding the plaque outside and
learning more of the story it tells.

At St Andrew’s Church, we believe there is so much in the Equiano family story to inspire
thought, reflection and discussion in our community. This is a hopeful story of faith
confronting injustice. It is a challenging story reminding us of horrifying wrongs in our
history. It is a story involving tragedy and loss, but also courage and triumph in the face of
adversity. The story of Olaudah, Susannah, Anna Maria & Joanna further speaks of
companionship and familial bonds bridging cultures – a lived experience many want to
recognise and celebrate in our society today.

At the heart of the Equiano Family Project is an idea for commissioning a new stained-glass
window in St Andrew’s Church.

A window would have the potential to commemorate the Equiano family and seek to
express through visual art a range of themes inspired by their story: Christian faith,
lamented history, the bonds of family, English and African heritages and more.

St Andrew’s has not had a new stained-glass window for over a century. Any new window
will need to be of sufficient artistic merit to complement the importance of the subject. It
should also be a significant enhancement to the worship space, enriching the experience of
this Grade 1-listed building for all who visit and enjoy it as a place of beauty, peace, prayer
and worship. There is also a nice coincidence of a window celebrating a family being above
the area our young families like to gather for worship in church today.

If you would like to learn more about the Equiano Family Project, do sign up to our mailing
list to receive updates on project initiatives. email: admin@standrews-chesterton.org

For up-coming events linked to the Equiano Family Project, see Events