Irreplaceable: A History of England in 100 Places - Art, Architecture & Sculpture

By Historic England

England's public spaces and buildings host a wealth of public art. This selection of images from the Historic England Archive illustrates the great variety of sculpture and statuary that can be seen in England's towns and cities.

Image missing

Statue of Eric Morecambe, Morecambe, Lancashire

Born John Eric Bartholomew, Eric Morecambe used his place of birth in his stage name. This bronze statue by Graham Ibbeson captures one of his trademark poses and wearing his bird-watching binoculars.

The larger than life statue was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II in July 1999. It was damaged in 2014 when a botched attempt to steal the statue necessitated repairs to its right leg.

Image missing

'Angel of the North', Low Eighton, Gateshead

Antony Gormley's 'Angel of the North' was built on the site of a former pithead baths. Unveiled in 1998, one of its functions is to act as a reminder of the industry that preceded it.

Standing twenty metres tall, it has a wingspan of fifty-four metres. Despite some early opposition, it has become a symbol for the North East of England, and even features on the badge of Gateshead Football Club.

Image missing

'Freddie Gilroy and the Belsen Stragglers', Scarborough, North Yorkshire

Ray Lonsdale's sculpture depicts a former miner and soldier, Freddie Gilroy. During the Second World War, Gilroy witnessed the horrors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, and the sculpture acts as a memorial to all who suffered during the World Wars.

Originally on temporary loan, a local resident donated £50,000 to keep the artwork in Scarborough.

Image missing

'St Michael and the Devil', Coventry Cathedral

Overlooking the steps to the Cathedral of St Michael, Sir Jacob Epstein's statue depicts the Archangel and leader of God's army, standing triumphantly over a chained Satan.

It was one of Epstein's last major works. He died in 1959 and the sculpture was unveiled by his wife Kathleen in 1961.

The head of St Michael is modelled on Wynne Godley, the economist and second husband of Epstein's daughter Kitty.

Image missing

'Verity', Ilfracombe, Devon

'Verity' was created by the artist Damien Hirst. The twenty metre high sculpture was installed in October 2012.

Depicting an anatomical cross section of a pregnant woman, the figure stands on legal books and holds the judicial symbols of a sword and scales.

Made in bronze around a steel frame, 'Verity' is described as a 'modern-day allegory for truth and justice'.

Image missing

'The Folkestone Mermaid', Folkestone, Kent

Cornelia Parker's 'The Folkestone Mermaid' takes inspiration from Copenhagen's 'Little Mermaid' and the female form. The life-size bronze is modelled on a local resident.

Also influential are the stories 'The Sea Lady' by HG Wells and 'The Little Mermaid' by Hans Christian Andersen. Wells lived in the town for a time and Andersen visited in 1857.

Image missing

'Another Place', Crosby Beach, Sefton

Antony Gormley's 'Another Place' comprises 100 cast iron figures modelled on the artist's own body. Set in the sand, the figures are revealed and submerged by the changing tides.

First exhibited in Germany in 1997, 'Another Place' was eventually given permission to stay permanently on Crosby Beach in 2007.

Image missing

'Three Standing Figures', Battersea Park, Wandsworth, Greater London

Created in 1947-8 from Darley Dale stone, Henry Moore's 'Three Standing Figures' was exhibited at the London County Council's first Open-Air Sculpture Exhibition at Battersea Park in 1948.

During the Second World War, Moore drew Londoners sheltering from bombing in the capital's underground stations. The 'group sense of communion in apprehension' he witnessed is hinted at in this sculptural group.

Image missing

'Following the Leader', Darley House, Lambeth, Greater London

The full title of this sculptural relief is 'Following the Leader (Memorial to the Children Killed in the Blitz)'. It was created in 1949 by Hungarian-born artist Peter Laszlo Peri and is sited on the stair tower to a residential block of flats.

Peri fled Nazi Germany in 1933 and settled in England, becoming a naturalised citizen in 1939. He pioneered the use of concrete for sculptures and developed 'Pericrete', a mixture of concrete and polyester resin.

Image missing

Memorial sculpture group ‘to the memory of prisoners of war and victims of concentration camps 1914–1945’, Gladstone Park, Dollis Hill, Greater London

Created c1967-9 by artist Fred Kormis, is a rare example of a memorial to prisoners of war and victims of concentration camps.

Born in Germany in 1897, Kormis was captured by the Russians during the First World War and imprisoned in a Siberian prisoner of war camp. He escaped and returned to Frankfurt in 1920. Kormis and his wife fled Nazi Germany and arrived in England via the Netherlands in 1934.

Each of the five figures in his sculptural group reflect an aspect of his wartime experiences.

Image missing

'The Burghers of Calais', Westminster, Greater London

Auguste Rodin's original 'Burghers of Calais' sculpture, completed in 1889, was created to stand outside Calais Town Hall. This later cast was bought by the National Art Collection Fund in 1911 and unveiled in 1915.

The sculpture depicts six leading citizens of Calais, who offered their lives to save their fellow citizens and their town during the siege of 1347 in the Hundred Years War.

This is one of twelve original casts of Rodin's 'The Burghers of Calais'.

Image missing

'Man of Fire', Hanley, Stoke On Trent

'Man of Fire' was installed above the entrance to the Lewis's (now Debenhams) department store in 1963. Created by sculptor David Wynne, it is made of aluminium and has been known locally as 'Jack Frost' and 'Spiky Man'.

Wynne never attended art school but achieved widespread recognition. His varied output included portraits and animals. He sculpted the four members of The Beatles and famously 'Gorilla' in Crystal Palace Park.

Image missing

Irreplaceable: A History of England in 100 Places

From abstract forms to statues of the famous, from department stores to seaside promenades, England's towns and cities are blessed with public sculpture. These works are loved by many and hated by some; they can generate controversy and they can create a sense of well-being and local pride.

Historic England's Irreplaceable campaign, sponsored by specialist insurer, Ecclesiastical, aims to highlight the places that have changed England and the world.

Image: 'Cutting Edge', Sheaf Square, Sheffield
This sculpture was created by local artists using local materials.

Credits: Story

Discover more about 100 Places

Listen to our podcast

Subscribe on iTunes

Discover the Historic England Archive

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps