Facing The Past – Three Sophias Installation

This moving exhibition is back at Lancaster Priory until 29th February.


The installation

Lancaster Priory Church hosts a challenging new installation in the wake of Black Lives Matters and the vandalism of the Rawlinson and Lindow memorial in Lancaster Priory Church in collaboration with young people in Sierra Leone.

The Three Sophias are sculptural imprints of Sophia Fileen who was baptised in Lancaster Priory on 15 February 1799 (each figure, standing 5ft high, will have a different pose and will be installed over the pews). These life-sized sculptures which you will see disrupting the church space have been designed by schoolgirls in Sierra Leone who have stepped across the centuries to imagine her life.



A significant step in Facing the Past was to commission research to understand the Priory’s complicity in transatlantic slavery. Local Historian, Dr Melinda Elder recently uncovered new black lives in Lancaster including that of Sophia Fileen. Sophia Fileen was baptised in Lancaster Priory on 15 Feb 1799, recorded as ‘a negro aged 11 years’ of Lancaster.

In response, Facing the Past asked a group of 11yr old school pupils in Sierra Leone to step across the centuries and across continents to imagine Sophia Fileen’s life. Working with Lancaster based movement practitioners and heritage professionals the pupils co-created
responses, documented by a professional photographer in Sierra Leone. The 11 yr olds connected to Sophia as a person – as a young girl with agency, strength, beauty and joy . The resulting 3 part installation acts as a sculptural imprint of the process of working through who Sophia was and how to communicate this into the only known place Sophia’s life has been recorded.


Come and view

The Three Sophias installation is open for visits Mon-Sat 10am to 4pm, plus limited times at weekends (please see events and Sunday services as listed on the website).

Get Directions



  • January 1st, 2024 to February 29th, 2024
  • Lancaster Priory, Priory Close, Lancaster LA1 1YZ
  • Get Directions