Albert the Good
A stone figure clothed in Coronation robes and bearing an orb and sceptre. Carved from three blocks of stone, the statue is without a head; its metal armature exposed. It stands on a steep mound above a rock-faced ashlar base which surrounds the base of a mature oak.
Although titled 'Albert the Good' is seems unlikely that the statue represents its namesake Prince Albert. In fact it is not clear who the statue represents or when it was erected. Executed by a little-known sculptor or stonemason for whom no records are to be found, its apparent lack of sculptural value perhaps accounts for the minor consideration afforded the work in Durham's archival records. The sculptor has paid scant attention to detailing in his carving of the stone; the drapery appears hard-edged, the hands are over-large and the right leg seemingly disjointed from its hip. Vandalism has left the figure without a head and the roots of the nearby oak threaten to subside the whole piece.
Although an exact date is not known, it seems likely that the statue was constructed in the late nineteenth-century or early twentieth century. The Durham Advertiser reports that the oak behind it was planted on 10 March 1863, as a commemoration of the wedding of the Prince of Wales to Alexandra of Denmark. Detailed coverage of this event omits mention of the statue so it was probably yet to be erected. (1)
It is uncertain whom the statue represents but the attire of Coronation Robes, sceptre and orb would indicate that the figure is a monarch. There is also no certainty of gender either though some claim that the statue is that of a female figure, possibly the young Queen Victoria. (2)
The inscribed tablet would suggest that the work represents Prince Albert. 'Albert the Good' is an abstract of a poem by Tennyson who dedicated his book 'Idylls of the King' to the late Price Consort after his death in 1861. Yet Albert was never sovereign.
There is the possibility the figure is that of Bertie, the Prince of Wales upon his coronation in 1902. Although the Prince of Wales reigned as Edward VII his first name was Albert. (5) The sculptor may have confused the two Alberts, assigning the affectionate title of 'Albert the Good' to Prince Albert Edward. If the statue is Edward VII, this would explain the close proximity of the statue to the commemorative oak behind.
Incised in large stone tablet below figure: ALBERT THE GOOD
Incised in marble plaque on base of work: WHILE WE HAVE TIME / LET US DO GOOD / UNTO ALL MEN.
At rear of base, incised in stone tablet: THIS OAK WAS PLANTED MARCH 10TH 1863 / THE MARRIAGE OF DAY OF ALBERT EDWARD PRINCE [. . .] / [. . . ] AL.
PMSA recording information
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