National Recording Project

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Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

Commemorative Images of the Founding of Stone

Summary

Type Panel , Street Furniture

     The images form two pieces of fence at the top of Stone High Street. The inscription is on a banner-like scroll, running the entire length of both pieces of the fence. The images depict the actions described in the text.
     This commission followed the construction of a bypass in the mid 1990s which enabled Stone Town Council to undertake a pedestrianisation scheme for Stone's High Street. Part of the plan was to erect ornamental gates depicting the story of the founding of Stone which would close off the town during the hours of pedestrianisation. Traders outside the pedestrianised area complained that they would be shut off from the High Street and generated enough support for a 'gates versus bollards' debate which received wide publicity. A public meeting was held which requested a parish poll under the Local Government Act 1972 and the Town Mayor agreed to honour the result of the poll. On 23 July 1997 the question 'Are you in favour of bollards being installed at the northern end of the High Street instead of the proposed gates' was put to the electorate, and the outcome of the poll produced a vote of 1332 votes in favour and 1104 against. As a result the bollards with the enclosing railings were approved, and Paul Richardson commissioned to design and fabricate the railings. The brief indicated that the barrier should be a landmark for the town that made a positive contribution to the regeneration of the High Street and its immediate surroundings. A process of public consultation indicated that a contemporary representation of different aspects of local achievement would be favoured, with suggestions including the shoe industry, the story of Hovis, canals, Peter de Wint, and brewing. In the event, it was a design commemorating the founding of Stone that was chosen.
     The work illustrates the legend of the founding of Stone in 670AD following the slaying of the two sons of Wulfhere, King of Mercia. Like his father Penda, Wulfhere was at first a heathen, but when he sought Ermenilda, a saintly daughter of the royal house of Kent, in marriage, he promised to become a Christian. His conversion was far from sincerem and Wulfhere reverted to his old beliefs almost immediately after he was married. Later he refused to allow his sons Wulfad and Rufin to be brought up anything but pagan. The daughter of the marriage, Werburga, was brought up to follow her mother's faith. While the two princes were out hunting, they met Chad, who had been sent to convert the savage Mercians. Both princes embraced the Christian faith, and paid frequent visits to the holy man. Meanwhile, the beautiful Werburga was sought in marriage by one of her father's nobles, Werebode, also a pagan. Werburga refused, having vowed to devote her life to piety; her refusal had the support of her two brothers. This was too much for Werebode, who filled the King's mind with stories of plotting against him by the princes. In a fit of intense anger, Wulfhere is said to have slain both his sons, Rufin at Burston and Wulfad at Stone. The King became ill, being overwhelmed by remorse, and the legend tells how he eventually visited Chad to receive absolution at his hands, and how he proved by deed as well as by word his complete acceptance of the faith. He rebuilt the church at Eccleshall which he had destroyed shortly before, and also founded an abbey at Peterborough. After the slaying of the princes, their broken hearted mother had buried them together at the spot where Wulfad fell, beneath a great cairn of stones. From this act, Stone took its name.

Inscriptions

Running along the fence, around the image: Wulfere King of Mercia slew his sons for their Christian faith According to custom Saxons laid stones where they fell to Preserve their memory STONE CA 670AD the queen built a church and the town grew up around.

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Richardson, Paul Artist

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Twelve fence panels Steel, painted black and gold 102cm high, of varied length

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
STstSOxx004 BM
General condition Good
Surface condition
  • No damage
Structural condition
  • None
Vandalism
  • None
Road Granville Square
Precise location On fence at north end of the High Street
A-Z ref None
OS ref SJ902339
Date of design 1997-98
Year of unveiling 1998
Unveiling details 1998
Commissioned by Stone Town Council
Duty of care Stafford Borough Council
Listing status Not listed
At risk? Not at risk

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