The Scripture, Dissent and Deaf Space project runs from 2014 until the end of January 2017. The project looks at the Spaces produced for Deaf people by the 19th century Church of England, and by Deaf people within the structure of those church spaces.
The focus of the project is the church of St Saviour’s, which sat on Oxford Street in London from the 1870s to 1922, when it was demolished. The church was built using funds from the Deaf community, from rich philanthropists, and from the ‘Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb’ (Now the R.A.D.).
The church wasn’t just a church. The building contained teaching rooms, and was the hub for a London Deaf community. The chaplains (initially Samuel Smith, and then others) worked between the church and the Deaf community, teaching, organising welfare and work, interpreting, and providing pastoral care. The church, and what it did, came to define the way that society should think about the Deaf community, both then… and – as services were given over to the state in the 20th century – now.
The project will look at questions like
- Where did church knowledge about Deaf people come from?
- What did church and Deaf spaces look like?
- What does the historical record tell us, and whose voice does it contain?
- What present day knowledge about Deaf people can be traced back to this time?