HumanKind: Stories of loneliness and isolation, kindness and compassion, past and present was jointly led by Suzanne MacLeod, Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) at the University of Leicester and Alison Thornhill, Calke Abbey. RCMG was commissioned by Calke Abbey, National Trust, to work in collaboration on the research project.

The project emerged as part of Calke’s planning processes and the Calke team’s desire to develop interpretation and programmes around the contemporary issue of social isolation and loneliness in 2019. The team at Calke Abbey was inspired by the 200th anniversary of the death of Henry Harpur, 7th Baronet of Calke Abbey who was dubbed ‘The Isolated Baronet’ in his own time. 

With an ambition to make a contribution to discussions and campaigns surrounding the contemporary epidemic of loneliness and potentially to the lives of ordinary people who might be struggling with loneliness, and aware of the need to enter this space from an educated and thoroughly researched perspective, Calke approached RCMG to ask them to ‘think with’ Calke about the potential opportunities and pitfalls of work in this area and to help Calke plan this work. 

Drawing on new research about the lives of the people who lived at Calke, HumanKind challenges the stigma that surrounds loneliness and social isolation today and raises questions about this pressing social issue. 

The film, HumanKind (by Paul Samuel Smith) with Suzanne MacLeod, Alison Thornhill, Kate Jopling, Sue Styche and Celia Sanger reveals the aims behind the collaboration.

Project Leads

  • Suzanne MacLeod – Professor, School of Museum Studies, RCMG
  • Alison Thornhill – Community and Engagement Manager, Calke Abbey, National Trust

Core Research Team

  • Richard Sandell – Professor, School of Museum Studies & Co-Director RCMG
  • Julie Howell – Creative Producer
  • Jocelyn Dodd – Co-Director, RCMG
  • Sarah Plumb – Research Development Fellow, RCMG

Project Team

  • Stewart Alcock – General Manager, Calke Abbey and Leicestershire Portfolio, National Trust
  • Karl Ambler – Volunteer, Calke Abbey
  • Jane Banister – Volunteer, Calke Abbey
  • Andrea Berry – Food and Beverage Assistant, Calke Abbey
  • Heloise Brooke – Head Gardener, Calke Abbey
  • Patrick Burke – Consultancy Manager, Volunteering and Participation, National Trust
  • Steve Butterworth – Food, Beverage and Retail Manager, Calke Abbey
  • Jo Davenport – Visitor Experience Consultant, National Trust
  • Natasha Deacon – Assistant Food and Beverage Manager, Calke Abbey
  • Owen Ensor – Assistant Food and Beverage Manager, Calke Abbey
  • Carolyn Galbraith – Facilities and Operational Support Manager, Calke Abbey
  • Julie Griffith – House and Collections Manager, Calke Abbey
  • Rebecca Harvey – Midlands Curator, National Trust
  • Karen Heath – Volunteer, Calke Abbey
  • Sue Hubbard – Volunteer, Calke Abbey
  • Caroline Icke – Marketing and Communications Officer, Calke Abbey
  • Kylie Jennings – Membership and Visitor Welcome Manager, Calke Abbey
  • Kate Joplin – Policy and Strategy Consultant, Jo Cox Commission
  • Zoe Knights – Engagement Officer, Calke Abbey
  • Dave Lees – Volunteer, Calke Abbey
  • Nicole Lenihan – Volunteer, Calke Abbey
  • Emily Mabbott – Ranger, Calke Abbey
  • Verena Marshall – Volunteer, Calke Abbey
  • Alannah Rasen – Visitor Experience Officer, Calke Abbey
  • Celia Sanger – Volunteer, Calke Abbey
  • Sharn Stinson – Volunteer, Calke Abbey
  • Sue Styche – Volunteer, Calke Abbey
  • Caroline Taylor – Visitor Experience Manager, Calke Abbey
  • Emma Thompson – Volunteering Co-ordinator, Calke Abbey