A new public sculpture in the Christchurch Greyfriars Church Garden to commemorate Christ’s Hospital School’s 350 years presence in the City of London, 1552-1902, was unveiled on 6 November by Alderman Sir Alan Yarrow (former Lord Mayor and member of the School’s governing Council).
Sir Alan Yarrow said: “It is a great honour to unveil a sculpture that marks not only a significant period in the history of Christ’s Hospital, but also celebrates life-changing education, for the children who have crossed its threshold, both in the City and in West Sussex.”
Working with the City and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the idea of a more permanent presence to mark the School’s London history evolved following a very successful exhibition of Christ’s Hospital’s history hosted by the bank, whose offices now occupy a large part of the School’s original site.
Planning permission and listed building consent was granted by the City of London Corporation, with support from Historic England, in December 2016.
Renowned sculptor, Andrew Brown (of Sussex Studios, Billingshurst) with many public commissions in his portfolio, was selected following an open competition run by The City of London Corporation. The finished bronze, cast at The Bronze Age Foundry in London, is 2.4m long and 1.5m high and is mounted on the wall of the garden.
Commenting on his first commission in London, Andrew Brown said: “It has been a great opportunity for me, making a sculpture for the City of London and at the same time a great challenge, creating a sculpture that reflects both the traditions and history of the School, and the forms of a modern urban environment. The fusion of the figurative, with the more abstract form of the background, combined with the very traditional and yet reflective bronze finish has, I hope, successfully tied these elements together.”
The sculpture is designed to curve gently, reflecting the care and support provided to children, who flow from the youngest entering the School to confident adolescents marching boldly into their futures. The back of the sculpture features a verse written about Christ’s Hospital by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who was a pupil from 1781 to 1791, along with a copper plate drawing of the Priory buildings at the time the School first occupied the site in 1552. The sculpture gives life to the essence of the School and its charitable mission to educate children in particular need, regardless of means. The famous Tudor uniform and marching depicted in the piece are synonymous with Christ’s Hospital today. The plaque refers to three key dates in Christ’s Hospital’s history: its foundation in 1552, the setting up of the Royal Mathematical School in 1673 and the School’s move to Horsham, West Sussex in 1902.
The Christ’s Hospital Band will be taking part in the Lord Mayor’s Show this Saturday (11 November). The parade passes very close to Newgate Street, where the School’s new sculpture is located.
Christ’s Hospital wishes to thank the Corporation of London for their support and many other generous benefactors.