The Quaker Quilters of Norwich Quaker Meeting held the Slave Quilts Exhibition at the Friends Meeting House in Norwich in May 2007. By the 1860s in the United States there were organised flights to freedom for enslaved people from the southern plantations via the Underground Railroad – a network of paths leading to the North and Canada. The ‘safe houses’ where assistance was offered on the way were often the homes of Quakers. This exhibition looked to reproduce some of the secret codes said to be hidden within the symbols and patterns featured in quilts made by slaves, to pass on directions to those looking to escape.
This small exhibition at Norwich Castle was part of the Norfolk's Hidden Heritage project. It included portraits of Norfolk-based Thomas Fowell Buxton, who was instrumental in the cause for abolition of British colonial slavery, and Amelia Opie, Norwich poet, author and anti-slavery campaigner. The exhibition also featured rare decorative items from the Castle collections relating to the consumption of tea and sugar, and 18th century books loaned by the Norfolk Heritage Centre. An events programme included lunchtime gallery talks and school activities.