Home of ‘first modern lesbian’ honoured as England’s LGBTQ history celebrated

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The home of the woman regarded as the “first modern lesbian” has been relisted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as part of a major initiative to improve understanding and recognition of the nation’s LGBTQ (lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender, queer) history.

The Grade II listed Shibden Hall in Halifax was home to the 19th-century diarist Ann Lister, who inherited the property in 1836.

MANDATORY CREDIT: Alison Oram

Undated handout photo issued by Historic England of Shibden Hall in Halifax, the former home of Anne Lister, described as the "first modern lesbian", which is among several sites given special status in recognition of what the Government's heritage agency called their "queer histories". PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday September 23, 2016. Historic England said it had listed, upgraded or updated listings for six locations across England which are of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) value. See PA story HERITAGE Gay. Photo credit should read: Alison Oram/PA Wire

NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

MANDATORY CREDIT: Alison Oram Undated handout photo issued by Historic England of Shibden Hall in Halifax, the former home of Anne Lister, described as the "first modern lesbian", which is among several sites given special status in recognition of what the Government's heritage agency called their "queer histories". PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday September 23, 2016. Historic England said it had listed, upgraded or updated listings for six locations across England which are of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) value. See PA story HERITAGE Gay. Photo credit should read: Alison Oram/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

Openly gay Lister is often described by historians as the “first modern lesbian” due to her self-identification as a woman who was sexually attracted to other women.

The landowner, who died in 1840 aged 49, kept detailed diaries, partly in code, in which she recorded her romantic experiences.

She resided at Shibden Hall with her partner for several years.

Her diaries were at one time kept hidden in the wall of an upstairs corridor at Shibden by a descendant of Lister who wanted to keep them a secret.

‘Major’ influence of LGBTQ people Other buildings to be relisted as part of Historic England’s Pride of Place initiative, unveiled on Friday, include 34 Tite Street, in London, where Oscar Wilde lived with his wife Constance Lloyd and their children from 1884 until his trial for gross indecency in 1895, and Red House, in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, home to Benjamin Britten.

The composer lived here with his partner, the tenor Peter Pears from 1957 until Britten’s death in 1976.

The grave of the writer, musician and Egyptologist Amelia Edwards has been newly listed as Grade II.

Edwards was one of the key founders of modern Egyptology and an advocate for women’s rights.

She died in 1892 aged 60 and is buried beside her long-term partner Ellen Braysher in St Mary’s Churchyard, Bristol.

The Pride of Place project was designed to shine a light on the “major” influences of traditionally overlooked or persecuted people, particularly those from the LGBTQ and BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) communities, disabled individuals and women, Historic England said.

Recognition at last Tracey Crouch, the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, said it was “fantastic” the buildings had received the “protection they deserve”.

“It’s so important when we protect our heritage that we recognise all of the communities that have influenced and shaped our history,” Ms Crouch said.

Duncan Wilson, the chief executive of Historic England said the impact of the historic environment on England’s culture “must not be underestimated”.

“Historic buildings and places are witnesses to events that have shaped our society. They hold real and tangible evidence of the way our nation has evolved,” he said.

“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.”

The Pride of Place project will help highlight what a diverse nation England has been for “many centuries”, Mr Wilson added.