Exploring the links between tea and drugs wars

An interactive experience exposing the reality of the tea trade through history is due to open in Brighton.

The trail through Preston Manor highlights the exploitation of workers, theft, and links to the 19th Century opium drug wars.

The experience has been created by the Culture Change team in Brighton & Hove Museums and is open from Friday until 27 October.

Visitors will experience the smells and sounds of a journey from England, through the docks of China, to an opium den.

'Financed by drugs'

Simone LaCorbinière, joint head at Culture Change says the experience will venture behind "the plush curtains of Preston Manor" and look "at what we, as a country, were prepared to do to keep the tea coming in".

He added: "It’s also a good starting point to investigating the origins of the money that came into Brighton over the years.

"Now we know at least some of it was financed by drugs."

Visitors to the show will follow a trail around the house with each room introducing a different aspect of the history of tea.

The trail is not suitable for those under 12 years old, the museum has advised.

One room will focus on Lady Ellen Stanford, the previous owner of Preston Manor, who donated the building to the city of Brighton on her death in 1932.

Another room will describe how the East India Company stole tea plants from China to transport to India to grow in the British Raj - the countries of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and at times, Burma, Somaliland, Singapore and Sri Lanka.

As the trail explores how the tea trade was linked to the world of opium smuggling, visitors will be able to experience a depiction of an opium inspired hallucination by using a restored Opium Dream Machine.

At the end of the trail guests can enjoy a cup of tea courtesy of The Tea People, an ethical social enterprise that seeks to eliminate poverty in tea-growing regions.

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