For more than a year Ian Jarman has been on a one man crusade to win recognition for an anonymous white marble statue in West Marina Gardens.
The statue depicts the moment that Edith Swanneck – or Edith the Fair – the common law wife of King Harold, finds his body, where he died, on the battlefield of the famous 1066 Battle of Hastings.
Now thanks to Mr Jarman’s dogged determination things are moving forward and in two weeks time, on Friday April 26th, there will be an unveiling of the new plaque that at least explains what the statue represents and starts to put in context it’s national significance.
The unveiling will take place at 1.30pm and Mr Jarman hopes that local councillors and maybe even MP Amber Rudd will come along to show their support for the work and for the fundraising that he has been doing. He has had support along the way from many individuals and from the Hastings Local History Group.
Mr Jarman is also in the process of launching a new book he has written called Edith’s Last Embrace which goes on sale at £8 and is available by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can but a copy over the counter from the Marina Fountain Pub opposite the statue. All proceeds from sales of the book will go to CARE (Campaign for A Roof for Edith) the fundraising group Ian has set up to raise money to protect the statue from further erosion.
The statue, owned by Hastings Borough Council, was commissioned in the early 1870s by Sir Thomas Brassey, Hastings’ MP at the time and the man who funded and built the Brassey Institute that now plays home to Hastings’ library. He had met Prussian sculptor Charles Augustus William Wilke – a man whose work regularly appeared at the Royal Academy and Wilke completed the work which at the time included an inscription carved into the marble that read: “Edith finding the body of Harold on the battlefield of Hastings.” the inscription has long since disappeared, worn away by the elements.
Mr Jarman feels local people do not fully appreciate just was a significant piece of artwork it is.
He says: “It is the only piece of art in the whole of the town that commemorates the famous battle; it is the only monument in the UK to depict the royal couple together and it is the only statue in existence of Edith who was in her own right a wealthy woman of great status in her home counties of Norfolk and Suffolk.”
On top of that Mr Jarman says the bloodlines between Harold and Edith and our present Queen have been well proven which further adds to its cultural and historical significance to the nation.
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