To commemorate a woman described as the first modern lesbian, YCT have partnered with York LGBT History Month, York LGBT Forum, and The Churches Conservation Trust to unveil a Rainbow Plaque for one of Yorkshire’s earliest LGBT representatives, Anne Lister. Born in Halifax, 1791, Anne inherited Shibden Hall upon the death of her last brother, Samuel, providing Anne with the wealth and means to pursue her passion for travelling and to live her unconventionally masculine lifestyle.

The unveiling took place on Tuesday 24th July 2018 at the Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, York.

Anne’s fame extends primarily from her work as a diarist during her travels, whereby she wrote coded entries and thousands of letters that took historians years to finally decode. They were revealed to be love letters to a woman named Eliza Raine, whom she shared a bedroom with at The Manor boarding-school in York.

On March 30th 1834, Anne received the blessing of the Holy Trinity Church in York to privately contract a marriage to Ann Walker. The couple happily lived together until Lister’s death 6 years later.

Anne Lister plaque












The plaque consultation group as a whole are listening to the positives and negatives expressed about this plaque’s wording and we have released a statement ANNE LISTER PLAQUE STATEMENT – POST INSTALLATION.

Our response to critique of the Anne Lister memorial plaque at York Holy Trinity – If you would like to be involved in the future consultation on the wording of the plaque, please consider joining the email list at or follow @yorklgbthistory for updates.

5 thoughts on “Anne Lister Rainbow Plaque Unveiling

  1. Thank you for your reply, as I said I do not “feel let down by the wording”. I feel let down by the response to the concern from the lesbian community by some of the partners involved. Thank you for hearing the concerns and I will engage in the consultation.

    please be aware that this is not the same statement that has been issued on line by the York LGBT forum, I would suggest that all the partners use the same response. My understand is that there is to be an open meeting to discuss this plaque at the LGBT forum open meeting on 9th August

  2. Hello, I wonder if you can confirm where the joint statement will be published and how the issue of a factually incorrect plaque will be addressed by the partners involved, In addition how the lesbian voice will be heard in this decision making process.

    I don’t feel let down by the wording, I believe this was well intentioned, I do however feel let down with the ill informed responses by the partners to the legitimate issues raised by the lesbian community and the offence this plaques wording continues to cause.

    I am a York resident and Lesbian and would be more than happy to be part of any consultation process the partners propose.

    The plaque has alienated a huge section of the LGBTQ+ community which I am sure was not the intention. The partners have the opportunity to put this right by hearing that voice and listening to the collective rather than one limited section of the York LGBT community which has few lesbians represented.

    I note that the Civic Trust have used the term “modern Lesbian” to describe Anne throughout all your published information. The Phrase “Gender non conforming entrepreneur” seems to have come from a minority voice in the LGBTQ+ community.

    I would also suggest that consultation with the historian who knows Anne best should be undertaken, Helena Whitbread has extensively researched Anne’s life and I wonder if she was ever asked if this is how Anne saw herself.

    1. Dear Leigh

      Thank you for your message, we are very sorry you feel let down by the wording, the plaque consultation group comprising of York Civic Trust, YORK LGBT Forum, York LGBT History Month and The Churches Conservation Trust, have released a statement (click on link above). If you would like to be involved in the future consultation on the wording of the plaque, please consider joining the email list at or follow @yorklgbthistory for updates.

  3. There is a petition on condemning this erasure of her lesbianism. You yourselves call her a lesbian but the plaque does not. And quite rightly has offended and angered many people in York and West Yorkshire.

    1. Hi Julie, we understand your concerns over the wording of the Rainbow Plaque. In response, we will be releasing a press statement this week with the 3 other groups involved in forming its creation (The Churches Conservation Trust, York LGBT History Month, York LGBT Forum). We do, however, feel that the installation of the plaque is good news for the community as a whole. The intention of the commemorative Rainbow Plaque at Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, is to recognise the impact that Anne Lister has had on so many people and to celebrate an important figure, and moment, in LGBT history. We are really sorry that you feel let down by the wording of the plaque.

Comments are closed.