National Recording Project


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

Apollo and the Muses


Type Sculpture

     Below the Conservatory in the Garden, a stone loggia of nine arched bays was constructed. Over each bay, ten locations in all, there is a sculpture. The nine Muses in classical robes and a recently carved Apollo stand on the balustrade on square plinths.
     The account books for what was then known as Alton Abbey between 1809 and 1839 show that the stonemason Thomas Bailey was paid for making pedestals for the conservatory in 1820. This suggests that this is when the statues would have been originally installed in the conservatory. Apollo and the nine muses were moved from the house conservatory to the colonnade by the 16th Earl, probably replacing vases. Although still in situ in 1851, the original Apollo was apparently banished from standing with so many females by the Victorians! An official guide book from the 1930s mentions that the nine muses were accompanied by a tenth female figure, supposed to represent Modesty. By the 1950s the muses were elsewhere in the garden and three of them were headless, while the god Apollo had long been missing. In the early 1990s they were restored and replaced on the colonnade by Cliveden Conservation. The new statue of Apollo was carved by Conrad Lindley-Thompson.
     The muses were daughters of Jupiter and Mnemosyne and represent various disciplines, e.g. epic poetry, dancing, astronomy. Apollo, son of Jupiter and Latona, also represents prophecy, singing and music. From left to right, the statues represent: 1.Melpomene, Muse of Tragedy, 2. Terpsichore, Muse of Dancing, 3.Calliope, Muse of Epic Poetry and Singing, 4. Urania, Muse of Astronomy, 5.Clio, Muse of History, 6.Apollo, Protector of Valleys and Grovs, Flocks and Herds, Disperser of Evil, Purifier of Guilt, Patron of the Arts, 7.Polyhymnia, Muse of Hymns and Pantomime, 8.Euterpe, Muse of Lyrical Poetry, 9.Erato, Muse of Love Poetry, and 10.Thalia, Muse of Comedy.

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Hollins, Peter Sculptor

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Muses (x9) Sandstone 90cm high
Plinths (x9) Sandstone 25cm x 25cm x 30cm high
Apollo Marble 90cm high
Plinth Stone 25cm x 25cm x 30cm high

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
STsmALvh011 BM
General condition Good
Surface condition
  • Biological growth
Structural condition
  • Cracks, splits, breaks, holes
  • None
Road None
Precise location Alton Towers Gardens
A-Z ref None
OS ref None

Sorry, we have no precise geographical information for this item.

Date of design 1820
Year of unveiling Between1827 and 1851
Unveiling details Originally installed by the 16th Earl between 1827 and 1851; reinstalled 1990s
Commissioned by 15th Earl of Shrewsbury
Duty of care Alton Towers - part of Tussauds Group
Listing status Not listed
At risk? No known risk

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