The Birthplace Of Feminism Is At Risk

Nick Levine
<span class="copyright">Photo: News Pictures/REX/Shutterstock</span>
Photo: News Pictures/REX/Shutterstock

A north London church which is often dubbed "the birthplace of feminism" has been placed on Historic England's latest Heritage at Risk List.

Newington Green Unitarian Church, today known as New Unity, has a rich history of fostering activism and promoting social justice. Inspired partly by forward-thinking sermons she heard at the church in the late 18th century, feminist pioneer Mary Wollstonecraft wrote 1792's highly influential feminist tome A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

In the book she argued that women were not naturally inferior to men, but only appeared to be at the time because they lacked education. A stencil of Wollstonecraft on the church's exterior (pictured left) commemorates her work to this day.

New Unity remains a place of progress and inclusivity. As the church notes on its website, "In 2008, New Unity became the first religious establishment in Britain to refuse to carry out any weddings at all until all couples have equal marriage rights. We are proud of our role in helping to propel a national movement toward full marriage equality."

According to Historic England, the church is considered at risk because "the building is now in poor condition." Refinery29 has contacted New Unity for a more detailed comment on the building's current condition.

Other landmarks placed on Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register 2016 include Brighton Old Town Conservation Area, which is said to have "a number of vacant landmark buildings" and traffic problems, and London Zoo's famous Aviary, designed by Lord Snowdon, which is apparently "in need of repair."

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