A quiet visit to a damp sculpture

The weather continues dull and wet. Around lunchtime, the rain paused and I went out. I had ordered tea by post and, of course, when they tried to deliver it last Thursday, I was out. This meant a trip to the sorting office in Almeida Street.

Chapel Market
Chapel Market

I cut through Chapel Market in order to avoid the main road as much as possible. Monday is the one day of the week when the market does not operate and the street looks like any other town street except for the stall locations painted on the ground.

At this point, my left hearing aid went dead and then started bleeping. This meant that the battery had run out and need replacing. In the end, I took both hearing aids out and put them in my handbag to sort out later. This made the world a quieter place, which was quite pleasant.

Battishill Gardens, Napier Terrace entrance
Battishill Gardens, Napier Terrace entrance

After picking up my box of tea, I went across the road to Napier Terrace, just to see what, if anything, was there. What was there was one of the entrances to Battishill Gardens.

I have already written about this little park and its sculpture – see A discovery. I had been startled to find a sculpted frieze by the early Victorian sculptor Musgrave Lewthwaite Watson (1804-47) there. (See A discovery for details.)

Frieze by Musgrave Lewthwaite Watson
Frieze by Musgrave Lewthwaite Watson

Maybe it was the dull light and the wet conditions, but the frieze looked even more overgrown and neglected than when I last came here. It badly needs a clean and some loving care.

The leftmost panel
The leftmost panel

It is all the more odd, given that other works by this artist are displayed in prominent places and are being looked after.

The gardens are wet and muddy
The gardens are wet and muddy

The gardens, which offer a welcome green area among streets of houses, are not looking their best at the moment. The ground is wet and muddy and there are even lumps of mud on the benches though I cannot imagine why.

Squirrel on a cold church roof
Squirrel on a cold church roof

Back on Upper Street, I spotted this squirrel scampering about on the bare roof of the Unity Church. I can’t imagine what he might have been looking for – or was he just having fun?

The Old Parr's Head
The Old Parr’s Head

This building makes a colourful splash on a dull day. It is an old Victorian pub but these days accommodates a fashion boutique. The name is by no means uncommon in London and probably refers to Thomas “Old Tom” Parr, who is said to have been born in 1483 and to have died aged 152 years, having lived through the reigns of 10 monarchs.

St Mary's Church
St Mary’s Church

I have photographed the above building many times too. As I was taking this photo, a bus came along. I had seconds to make up my mind whether to jump on the bus and go home or whether to continue walking. The weather was not propitious so the bus won.


Here is a follow-up to this article, concerning the background to Battishill Street Gardens: Battishill Street Gardens and the Gold Headed Cane.

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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4 Responses to A quiet visit to a damp sculpture

  1. AEJ says:

    152 years! Wow. I don’t think I’d enjoy being around for that long.

    What is involved with cleaning a frieze? Maybe you could organize a community event of volunteers to do the cleaning and restoration.

    • SilverTiger says:

      My feeling is that as long as a person feels fit and well and has no major problems s/he is happy to stay alive. Old Tom must have seen many changes to his world, living as he did through 10 reigns, and that would no doubt have kept him mentally alert.

      I imagine that a piece of sculpture when it has been exposed to the elements, especially if it has suffered damage thereby, needs expert attention. A quick scrub with some detergent might do more harm than good and open it to faster deterioration.

  2. WOL says:

    Looks like someone needs to take a stiff brush and a bucket of hot sudsy to ol’ Musgrave Lewthwaite Watson. Part of the problem may be the way it is sited. I have a similar problem with the concrete walkway along the back of my house. Since the house faces south, the part of the walk that is right next to the house hardly ever gets any sunlight because of the angle of the sun and the roof overhang, so most of the time it’s covered with moss/algae that’s greener than my grass! Looks like they could give it a good clean and then put some kind of seal coat over the stone.

    As steep as the pitch is on that roof, how is the squirrel staying put?

    • SilverTiger says:

      The siting of the sculpture does nothing to protect it, rather, as you observe, the opposite. The work was originally in the Hall or Commerce in Threadneedle Street until this was demolished in 1922. It was stored until 1974 when it was repaired and made a “feature” of the new Battishill Gardens. It seems as though no one wanted it but no one could quite find the courage to dispose of it either, so, like a prisoner consigned to a medieval dungeon, it has been left here to rot.

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