National Recording Project

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

Monument to Viscount Rowland Hill (1772-1842)

Summary

Type Shaft , Statue

     A square section main pedestal, elongated at the corners to provide pedestals or piers for the four crouching lions, is raised above two steps. To the north, the red sandstone foundation blocks have been exposed forming another step. Above the main pedestal is a Doric column, claimed at the time to be the largest in the world, supporting above its cornice a drum pedestal for the statue. The statue shows Viscount Hill in military uniform with metal sword. A door on the NNE side of the main pedestal gives access to an internal staircase and a raised observation area immediately above the cornice.
     The people of Shropshire raised £5937 by public subscription to commemorate Viscount Hill. The monument by Thomas Harrison and designed by Edward Haycock, is said to have both the largest Greek Doric column in the United Kingdom, and the largest Coade stone statue in existence. John Carline was responsible for the sculpting of the lions, and Joseph Panzetta for the statue of Lord Hill. The Coade stone that the statue is made from is a mixture of clays blended with flint, quartz sand, and a 'grog' of ground fired waste. Despite the superior durability of Coade stone, the statue seems to have given considerable trouble over the years. Scull refers to it as the largest Coade stone statue in existence and 'almost certainly in the most exposed location'. The Mirror (1824) claims that the statue was originally set up with its back to Shrewsbury, symbolising how His Lordship had turned his back on the town during his life, but its position was later revised. This story is difficult to credit since the total cost of the monument (and cottage) - £5,937 13s 2d - was raised by public subscription in Shrewsbury and Shropshire. 1816 Column completed for the anniversary of Waterloo. 1879 Frost damage cuased lumps of the statue to fall off. Remedial work carried out by Mr Lauducci, sculptor, of Bellstone, under the general superintendance of Mr W H Sheppard (Shropshire Shreds and Patches, 10 February 1879) 1945 Conflict over amount of money to be spent on restoration after an arm fell off (Trumper, p.35) 1956 Steeplejacks install wire netting round the statue to prevent crumbling masonry falling on the heads of passersby (Shropshire Star, 25 June 1956) 1967 Proposal to replace the statue itself with a fibreglass replica. Arup's calculations showed that the top of the column would become unstable with its reduced weight (Scull) After expert examination, it was found that the statue needed a considerable amount of repair, estimated at £2,000. The hollow figure was filled with cement grout and finished off with a waterproof coating (Shrewsbury Chronicle, 1 December 1967). 1970s Right leg replaced by a concrete replica; right hand replaced with a wooden copy, holding a replacement alloy sword (Scull) 1994/5 Statue cut into sections (following the original joints as far as possible) and lowered to the ground. Over the years, moisture had penetrated, and expansive corrosion of the wrought iron armature had caused severe cracking of the Coade stone shell from within. Voids in the Coade stone shell were cleared of all fill and iron parts, and cracks were repaired with resin-anchored stainless steel pins. The void were refilled with new mortar, holes bored and rebates cut to take the new armature, and special ties were detailed to fix the arms and concrete leg in place (Scull). The 1994/5 restorers wer Taylor Pearce Restoration Services Ltd, and consulting engineers Ove Arup and Partners.(2) John Straphen, builder, donated a spiral staircase for inside the column with inscribed balusters.Local tradition has it that the record for climbing the stairs to the top of the column is 28 seconds. According to Pidgeon, the installation originally had railings and lamps around it. It is not known when these were removed. The monument was built complete with a Doric-fronted cottage or lodge (known locally as 'The Cottage') for an attendant who would, for a gratuity, conduct visitors up the column to enjoy the panoramic view. This post was held for many years by Sergeant Davies, who had fought alongside Lord Hill and who was appointed in 1817 at Lord Hill's own request. The cottage was finally demolished sometime between 25 March 1963 and 25 July 1964 when the foundation stone for the new Shire Hall was laid, the new building necessitating removal of the older one.
     General Viscount Rowland Hill of Almarez and Hawkstone Salop (1772-1842) led a distinguished military career receiving his first commission in 1790, he was a Lieutenant-General at Waterloo (1815), was made a full general in 1825, and became Commander-in-Chief of the British Army between 1828-1842. He was well liked by those he commanded, gaining the nickname 'Daddy Hill'. (1)

Inscriptions

Plaque on NNW face of main pedestal, Roman capitals, without pigmentation: TO LIEUTENANT GENERAL ROWLAND LORD HILL/BARON HILL OF ALMARAZ AND HAWKSTONE G.C.B./NOT MORE DISTINGUISHED FOR HIS SKILL AND COURAGE IN THE FIELD/DURING THE ARDUOUS CAMPAIGNS IN SPAIN AND PORTUGAL/THE SOUTH OF FRANCE AND THE MEMORABLE PLAINS OF WATERLOO/THAN FOR HIS BENEVOLENT AND PATERNAL CARE/IN PROVIDING FOR THE COMFORTS AND SUPPLYING THE NECESSITIES/OF HIS VICTORIOUS COUNTRY MEN/AND FOR THAT HUMANITY AND GENEROSITY/WHICH THEIR VANQUISHED FOES EXPERIENCED AND ACKNOWLEDGED/THE INHABITANTS OF THE TOWN AND COUNTY OF SALOP/HAVE ERECTED THIS COLUMN AND STATUE/AS A MEMORIAL OF THEIR RESPECT AND GRATITUDE TO AN ILLUSTRIOUS CONTEMPORARY/AND AN INCITEMENT TO EMULATION IN THE HEROES AND PATRONS OF FUTURE AGES/A.D. MDCCCXV Plaque on SSE face of main pedestal, Roman capitals, without pigmentation: CIVI.SVO.ROLANDO./DOMINO.BARON.HILL.AB.ALMARAZ.ET.HAWKSTONE/ POPULARES.EIUS.EX.AGRO.ATQUE.MUNICIPIO.SALOPIENSE./ COLUMNAM.HANCCE.CUM.STATUA.P.C./A.S.MDCCCXVI/IS.IN.RE.MILITARI. QUEMADMOUM.SE.GESSERIT/TESTES.SINT.LYSITANIA.HESPANIA.GALLIAE/ NARBONENSIS.AC.BELGICA./ARTURIUS.DUX.A.WELLINGTON/SOCIORUM.ET.QUIDEM.HOSTIUM.EXERCITUS Plaque on SSW side of main pedestal, Roman capitals, without pigmentation: ROLEIA ARROYO DEL MOLINOS HILLETTE VIMIERA ALMARAZ ORTHES CORUNNA VITTORIA AIRE DOURO PYRENNES TARBES TALAVERA NIVE TOULOUSE BUSACO NIVELLE WATERLOO Pidgeon speaks of the inscription on internal cast iron staircase in raised gilded Roman letters, one letter on each of 172 steps: THIS STAIR CASE was the GIFT OF JOHN STRAPHEN, THE BUILDER, as HIS donation towards ERECTING this COLUMN. The First Stone of the Foundation was LAID December 27th, 1814. And completed June 18th, 1816, the ANNIVERSARY of the GLORIOUS BATTLE of WATERLOO.

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Arup, None Restorer
Panzetta, Joseph Sculptor
Carline the Elder, John Sculptor
Coade and Sealy, None Other
Haycock, Edward Architect
Harrison, Thomas Architect
Taylor Pearce Restoration Sevices Ltd, None Restorer

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Statue Coade stone 5.2m high
Column Grinhill sandstone 4.57m diameter at pedestal, 68cm thick; 3.2m diameter at capital, 48cm thick
Four lions Grinshill sandstone each 3.2m long x 1m wide x 1.3m high
Main pedestal (including 2 steps) Grinhill sandstone 4.11m high
Drum pedestal for statue Grinhill sandstone 5.18m high

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
SAshSRgl035 BM
General condition Good
Surface condition
  • Surface spalling, crumbling
  • Previous treatments
Structural condition
  • Broken, missing parts
  • Replaced parts
  • Loose elements
Vandalism
  • Graffiti
Road London Road
Precise location outside Shire Hall, on traffic island at junction of Abbey Foregate, London Road, Wenlock Road and Haycock Way
A-Z ref 33 C2
OS ref SJ506120
Date of design 1814-16
Year of unveiling 1816
Unveiling details 18 June 1816
Commissioned by Public subscription
Duty of care Shropshire County Council
Listing status II*
At risk? No known risk

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