Thursday, 14 March 2019

A Panoply of People

This blog post brings together a plethora of sculptures of people from around Somerset.


Manor Farm, Lower Street, Merriott


Jack and Jill gates at Kilmersdon School
Jack and Jill Hill in Kilmersdon is supposed to have been the inspiration for the nursery rhyme of the same name.  It links Ames Lane to School Lane. 

The Belfry, Priddy
Bristol Exploration Club, which is one of the UK's major caving clubs, has its headquarters at a hut called The Belfry in Priddy.  There is a large bat over the entrance and a large skeleton on the side wall.

Sainsbury's, Hankridge Farm
This large relief sculpture is by local artist Christopher Dean. It was commissioned by Sainsbury's in 1992, which is presumably when the Hankridge Farm store opened.  According to the plaque beside it, "it depicts the elements of life, water, earth, air and fire, together with the activities associated with a supermarket."  It is located to the side of one set of entrance doors but I must have walked by it dozens of times before I noticed it.

Yankee Jack, Watchet Harbour
John Short (1839-1933) sailed the world in various sailing ships, first as an able seaman and later as bosun. In the 1860s some of the ships he was sailing in, ran the blockade in the American Civil War, For this reason he was given the nickname  “Yankee Jack” by people of Watchet.   He had a good voice and often sang sea shanties while on board ships.  He memorised many sea shanties and in the early 1900s he was visited by two collectors of sea shanties - Cecil Sharp and Sir Richard Terry - who transcribed the lyrics and tunes John had remembered.  

In March 2008 a statue of Yankee Jack, commissioned by Watchet Market House Museum Society, was unveiled at Watchet Harbour.  It was sculpted by Alan Herriot from Scotland.



The Ancient Mariner, Watchet Harbour
This statue of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Ancient Mariner was commissioned by Watchet Market House Museum in 2002.  A competition was held to suggest designs for the statue and it was won by Scottish sculptor Alan Herriot.  It was unveiled in 2003.


Man on a Bench, Bruton
This bronze sculpture was designed by Giles Penny and installed close to the packhorse bridge in Bruton in June 2015.  Apparently it cost £22,000 and gets very hot in the summer when the sun is shining, so if you choose to sit down on it on a hot day, beware!


Old Bluecoat School and Almshouse, Frome
These two ladies are Charity Girls.  They date from around 1803 and were originally on display at Keyford Asylum, which has been demolished.

Nancy Guy and Billy Ball, Old Bluecoat School, Frome
An almshouse was founded on The Bridge in Frome in around 1465 by William Leversedge.  It was replaced by the current building in 1728, at which time a free school (called the Bluecoat School) was incorporated into it.  This survived until 1921.  The name derives from the colour of the coats worn by the pupils.  Statues of an almswoman (known locally as Nancy Guy) and a schoolboy (known locally as Billy Ball) adorn the facade.  The building still provides housing for retired people and is now called Blue House.

Doreen, Donyatt Halt 
Doreen Ash was evacuated to Donyatt in September 1939 at the age of 5.  In c2009 a bronze statue of her sitting on a suitcase was placed next to a wooden hut on the platform of Donyatt Halt.  In November 2015 the wooden hut was burnt down and Doreen's statue was badly damaged by an arson attack.  The Chard to Taunton railway line opened in 1866 but Donyatt did not get a station until 1928.  The line closed in 1962.


Frank Foley, Highbridge 
Frank Foley, who was born in Highbridge, was a British Secret Intelligence Service officer based in Berlin in the 1930s.  He issued 1,000s of visas to Jews, enabling them to leave Germany, thus saving them from the Holocaust.   In 2005 a statue of Frank Foley designed by Jonathan Sells was unveiled in Market Street, Highbridge. It was paid for by public fundraising.

Patrick, Wadeford
This statue is by the side of the road as you drive through the village of Wadeford between Chard and Combe St Nicholas.  His name is Patrick - it says so on the base - and on the lamppost it says "Good fortune to you.  Share a little of it."   Patrick belongs to Chardleigh House, which is a residential home for young people with social difficulties.  It is run by a company called 3 Dimensions Care Ltd.


Jane Seymour, Nether Stowey 
This brightly painted relief sculpture of Jane Seymour, 3rd wife of Henry VIII, can be found in the garden of a house in Castle Street, Nether Stowey.  The house is near the junction of Castle Street with Mount Road.   Jane is at a 90 degree angle to the road and can be seen most clearly from the pavement in the winter when the wisteria around her has lost its leaves.  Her black and white spotted dog stands by her side. The statue was created in 1970 by Doug Forsey, apparently to fill an empty space where a door had been blocked up. She was made from chicken wire and cement.

Jacob wrestling with the Angel, Rodhuish Church
 This aluminium and iron sculpture was made by local artist Rachel Reckitt (1908-1995).  She donated it to St Bartholomew's Church in Rodhuish.

Quarryman, Norton-sub-Hamdon
This chap is seated outside the Lord Nelson pub in Rectory Lane, Norton-sub-Hamdon.  I haven't been able to find out how long he has been there or by whom he was made but I presume he is a former quarryman.

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