National Recording Project

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

Worcester Guildhall (including Statues of Justice, Charles I, Charles II and Queen Anne)

Summary

Type Other , Coat of Arms , Medallion , Panel , Sculpture , Statue

     The portrait statues of Charles I and Charles II are placed in niches on the left and right of the entrance, and above the door is Queen Anne. The statue of Justice and two other figures adorn the roof of the hall. The three royal statues flank the door - Anne above it, Charles (Carolus) I on the left and Charles II on the right, all holding orb and sceptre. They stand each in a niche with flat white stone pilasters and round arches, a lion's head on each keystone. The backs of the niches are painted in terracotta colour. The statues are almost entirely within the niches, the sceptres projecting. The sceptres and crowns of the three monarchs are treated in the same way, namely gilded and with the caps within the crown's painted red. The figure of Queen Anne stands erect, wearing a gilded crown and holding a gilded orb in her left hand and a gilded sceptre in her right. She wears an elaborate dress which stands out as if well-padded; it appears to be embroidered. Parts, including a fringe around the hem, are gilded and a girdle which hangs down almost to her feet is also painted and gilded. Although she is in the central, dominant position in the arrangement of the three monarch, she is the shortest of them. The figure of Charles I stands, crowned, bearing a sceptre in his right hand and a model of a building with a spire in his left hand. The model has four Gothic windows and a tower in the middle with a gilded spire. The whole is outlined in gold, other details are in white. He wears a curious kilt-like garment with apparently an overgarment of lace and an open robe falling behind from his shoulders. On his legs are stockings with elaborate garters, on his feet plain square-toed shoes. He wears two decorations, both gilded, a jewelled chain and on top of that a gold medal on a ribbon. Like his fellow monarchs, Charles II wears his crown and carries his sceptre in his right hand. In his left is the orb held a t hip level. He wears, like his father, a kilt-like garment with a shoulder-cape and draperies which come round from the back under his right arms and are supported by his left hip. On his shoulders is s jewelled gold chain with an oval pendant hanging from its centre. He wears stockings and shoes with bows. In the tympanum at roof level above the door is a large Trophy of Arms, painted in appropriate colours. Above it, free-standing on the solid balustrade are statues of - from left to right - Hercules, Peace, Justice, Plenty and Chastisement. Justice stands highest, above the door, flanked by Peace and Plenty. The figure of Hercules carries a cudgel and wears a lion skin, he symbolises strength. The figures representing Peace and Plenty are female figures in classical garb, Peace carrying a musical instrument. The central figure of Justice is also, as is traditional, female; she carries a sword and a pair of scales and is placed upon a plinth. The figure of Chastisement is male, he carries an axe. Between Hercules on the parapet above the north corner of the building, and Peace on the parapet on the north side of the central bay are two urns. There are two identical urns between Plenty on the parapet on the south side of the central bay and Chastisement on the parapet above the south corner of the building. The building is brick with stone quoins and facings, nine bays. There are two wings, each three bays wide, projected towards the street. There are rectangular stone sculpted panels, all different, one between each pair of ground and first floor windows: some with features gilded. Some of these panels depict deeply carved foliage an done has the motif of a gilded sceptre crossed with a sword. On the keystone of the flat arch above each window there is a head in fairly low relief, each head being different from the rest. Each window has a stone sill supported by decorative brackets carved into swirling curves. Over the semi-circular light above the door the head is more prominent; the local story is that it represents Cromwell, pinned there by the ears. The broken pediment over the door has the City coat of arms almost shield-shaped and surrounded by a gilded scroll with two cherub's heads enclosed in it. The arms, castle imposed on quarters of red and black with the three black pears top left, is painted. Above a door on the Copenhagen Street façade there is a shield displaying the City coat of arms. The area enclosed by the two wings and the main facade is flagged and cut off from the High Street by fine railings and ornate gates put up in the eighteenth century (c.f. WOwoWOmg054). Justice is the most prominent of the allegorical figures on the roof line, as the building housed the Law Courts. The Trophy of Arms hopefully suggests military prowess whilst the royal statues proclaim the loyalty of the city to the crown.
     According to Pevsner the designer of the building was probably Thomas White, who had submitted a design in 1718. (2) The statue of Queen Anne was originally carved by Thomas White in 1705 and placed in front of the Old Guildhall, White was made a Freeman of Worcester in 1709 in recognition of this. The statue of Charles I was carved by White in 1712. It is presumed the White was also responsible for the statue of Charles II. The Trophy of Arms is signed by White and dated 1722. It is thought that White also designed the roof line allegorical statues, although it is not known if he carved them personally.
     Anne (1665-1714), Queen of Great Britain and Ireland (1702--14). Charles I (1600-49) King of Britain and Ireland (1625--49). In 1642, having alienated much of the realm, he entered into the Civil War, which saw the annihilation of his cause at Naseby (14 Jun 1645), and his surrender to the Scots at Newark (1646). After many negotiations, during which his attempts at duplicity exasperated opponents, and a second Civil War (1646-48), he came to trial at Westminster, where his dignified refusal to plead was interpreted as a confession of guilt. He was beheaded at Whitehall on 30 January 1649. Charles II (1630-85) King of Britain and Ireland (1660--85). As Prince of Wales, he sided with his father in the Civil War, and was then forced into exile. On his father's execution (1649), he assumed the title of king, and was crowned at Scone, Scotland (1651). Leading poorly organised forces into England, he met disastrous defeat at Worcester (1651). The next nine years were spent in exile until he was summoned back as king in 1660. Hercules, well-known hero of Greco-Roman legend, Hercules (or Heracles) is the subject of volumes of complicated mythology. It is generally accepted that he was the son of Zeus and Alcmene, a granddaughter of Perseus. Although Zeus planned for Hercules to become the ruler of Greece, a trick by Zeus's wife, who was jealous of Alcmene, made Eurystheus king instead. Hercules's first legendary feat was to kill two serpents that the vengeful Hera had directed to kill him in his cradle. It was Eurystheus who forced Hercules to perform the 12 Labours, which included slaying the Nemean lion and capturing Cerberus, the triple-headed dog who guarded the lower world. Hercules is usually depicted as very strong and muscular, with a bow or club at his side.(1)

Inscriptions

Under the relevant statues, painted on stone panels, gilt outlined in black: "ANNA REGINA", "CAROLUS I" and "CAROLUS II" Inscribed and gilded above the door and below the door pediment: "FLOREAT SEMPER FIDELIS CIVITAS" (semper fidelis is in italics)

Contributor details

Contributor Role
White, Thomas Architect

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Queen Anne Stone, some gilding and red paint None
Charles I Stone, some gilding and red paint None
Charles II stone, some gilding and red painting None
Trophy of Arms Stone, painted None
Coats of Arms Stone, painted None
5 roof statues Stone None
Urns Stone None
6 carved panels Stone, gilding on some None

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
WOwoWOmg030 BM
General condition Good
Surface condition
  • Previous treatments
  • Other
Structural condition
Vandalism
  • None
Road High Street
Precise location AT junction with Copenhagen Street, on the façade of the Guild Hall
A-Z ref None
OS ref SO850548
Date of design 1705-24
Year of unveiling 1724
Unveiling details 1724
Commissioned by None
Duty of care City of Worcester
Listing status I
At risk? No known risk

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