Campaign to remove Chester statue of slave owner

发布时间:2020-07-04编辑:admin阅读(280)

Campaign to remove Chester statue of slave owner cartoons 第1张The bronze statue, on the traffic island between the HQ building and the road entrance to Chester Crown Court, depicts Field Marshal Stapleton Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere, (1773-1865), who was a cavalry officer, diplomat, politician and friend of Wellington.

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A debate is heating up over what to do with a Grade II* listed statue of a distinguished soldier after it emerged he owned more than 400 slaves.

The bronze of Field Marshal Stapleton Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere (1773-1865), on horseback by Chester ’s Grosvenor roundabout has stood for more than 150 years.

Erected in October 1865 just after his death, the statue celebrates Cotton's achievements as a cavalry officer with no mention of his shameful past.

In the wake of George Floyd’s killing by US police, anti-racists have been highlighting the UK’s links to the slave trade with calls for statues of slave owners and traders to be taken down and placed in museums.

But the statue of Stapleton Cotton, funded by public subscription and the first major piece of open-air public sculpture in Cheshire, also has its supporters as a prestigious work of art and being part of Chester’s history.

Campaign to remove Chester statue of slave owner cartoons 第2张The Black Lives Matter protest in Chester.  

Cheshire West and Chester Council is carrying out a review of the borough’s historical association with slavery to inform a debate about what to do with features such as statues, street names and monuments.

Now Black Lives Matter supporter Tanisha Adolph has started an online petition that will be sent to CWaC and city MP Chris Matheson.

She writes: “Stapleton Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere was a joint owner of a number of plantations on St Kitts and Nevis between 1822 and 1834. He was appointed the Governor of Barbados in 1817 meaning he was involved with overseeing the operation of plantations, slaves being shipped in and out of the island through purchase and sales of African people and the overall use of slaves on the island.

“He also received a considerable amount of compensation (around £920,000 in today’s currency) for the loss of 420 enslaved people, at the time of release, on his estates.”

She points out the statue stands in a prominent location opposite Chester Castle but the pedestal makes no mention of the individual’s links to slavery and ‘how he profited from it’. Some BLM supporters are talking about holding a protest at the spot.

Tanisha added: “We are petitioning to have the statue removed from its prestigious site in Chester and possibly placed into a museum where people will be able to learn about Combermere’s full history.

Campaign to remove Chester statue of slave owner cartoons 第3张The bronze statue, on the traffic island between the HQ building and the road entrance to Chester Crown Court, depicts Field Marshal Stapleton Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere, (1773-1865), who was a cavalry officer, diplomat, politician and friend of Wellington.  

“We do not believe that the removal of these statues and the changing of street names is the sole way to remove the systemic racism that is deep rooted in our country and its history. It is also not a way for us to try and ‘remove’ the past as this is not possible.

“We are also not discounting the achievements of these commemorated individuals but rather revealing the reality that comes with/behind some of their success.

“We do, however, believe that in doing this we are taking small steps towards educating the UK about our true history and hope that this education will create some change in the fundamental issues our country was built upon.”

However, CheshireLive has been contacted by several people sympathetic to the anti-racist cause but concerned at losing the statue.

Among them is Dr Emma Roberts who wrote: “I would like to note that the statue of Viscount Combermere is the first major piece of public open-air sculpture in Cheshire and is by a very prestigious artist indeed.

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“This makes it a highly important work of art - irrespective of whom it commemorates. It was paid for by public subscription, due to the large desire in Cheshire citizens to see the work sited. Far more money was raised by the public than was necessary and the remainder was given to charity.

“The artist was Italian, Baron Carlo Marochetti, who was an expert in equestrian statuary. Indeed, this is where the importance of the statue lies, and why I hope that it could remain unharmed.

“The skill with which the sculptor has reproduced a horse through the medium of bronze is remarkable. Other locations where Marochetti sculptures are sited include Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral and Euston Station, and he worked on the lion sculptures at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.

"Therefore, Chester citizens are fortunate every day to be able to see an art work that would not be out of place in a venue such as the Victoria and Albert Museum or The National Gallery.

“I hope that we can disassociate the subject matter of the sculpture from its role as a first-class work of art, and enjoy the beauty and prowess of Marochetti’s skill and abilities.“

Campaign to remove Chester statue of slave owner cartoons 第8张Gladstone's Library in Hawarden  

◆ Just over the border in North Wales a debate is also raging after a petition was launched to rename Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden due to the family’s links to the slave trade.

There are calls for the library to go back to its former name of St Deiniol’s Library but this sparked a counter-petition insisting the library, founded by Prime Minister William Gladstone who lived at Hawarden Castle, should stay as it is.

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