ITV London 6pm News 14th Jan 2022
14th Jan 2022 what an emotional day for me – the unveiling of a Blue Plaque at Trinity Laban Conservatoire in Greenwich Naval College, the site of the Palace of Placentia, or 'pleasant place', one Henry VIII’s favourite palaces.
It was three years ago when Nubian Jak first approached me with the idea of have a Nubian Jaq Community Trust Blue Plaque erected for John Blanke. This was not an easy thing to do as the surviving buildings from Tudor times that John Blanke could be associated with are all listed buildings with tight restrictions on what could ,and could not be attached to them. After three years searching and discussions, we finally reached agreement with English Heritage and Trinity Laban Conservatoire.
The site at Greenwich is very fitting place to remember John Blanke as Henry VIII had a great tilt yard (a courtyard for jousting) made in the grounds of the Palace so that he and his men could practise jousting and hold tournaments. John Blanke would have almost certainly played at those tournaments just as he did at the February 1511 Tournament held at Westminster, where he is shown playing at its opening and closing.
There is already a BBC Plaque to John Blanke but that is in the Tudor area of the Naval College Visitor Centre, the Nubian Jak Community Trust is in the music college a most fitting place to commemorate trumpeter. The plaque is located at the foot of the Hawksmoor Staircase.
The day was additionally special as it was my first public speaking event due to the pandemic in almost two years. It started with a negative Lateral Flow Test a perquisite to attendance and the need to wear a face mask as required by the event’s organisers – the new normality.
I was made very welcome by the staff at Trinity Laban, they made the whole event flow smoothly.
It was an honour to present John Blanke and the Project to such an esteemed audience which included senior members of the Trinity Laban staff, local dignitaries and I was especially honoured to see representatives from the College of Arms and The National Archive there, both of these organisations have played a huge part in making my Project happen. The contributions to the Project were represented by Mark ‘Mr T’ Thompson reading his poem John Blanke.
Mark 'Mr T' Thompson reading his poem
Of course, actually unveiling the Plaque was a great experience but the most moving and memorable part of the day for me was the vicar of St Alfege, the local parish church to the Naval College in Greenwich, the church has a history dating back to 1012. He spoke of the importance of John Blanke to him as he could show to the many Black children who attended his church and its primary school a Black presence in Tudor times. In doing so they could see themselves as being part of British history dating back 500 years, a key objective of the Project as the children will, as the Project’s strapline say ‘Imagine a Black Tudor trumpeter’
I would like to close by thanking Nubian Jak Community Trust, English Heritage and Trinity Laban Conservatoire for making the John Blanke Plaque happen and for allowing me to be part of its unveiling.
From left to Right
Mark Mr T Thompson (poet) , Michael Ohajuru, Jane Sidell (Historic England) ,David Bahanovich (Assistant Director of Music, Trinity Laban), Robyn Bignall-Donnlley (Trinity Laban Communications Manager), Nubian Jak
Michael I. Ohajuru
15th January 2022