Bringing recognition to an otherwise anonymous marble statue in West Marina Gardens has up until now been pretty much a one-man job but Ian Jarman is delighted to announce that all that looks set to change with the launch of a new website and a new organisation called simply Friends of Edith.
Earlier in the summer former MP Amber Rudd and Hastings’ Mayor Nigel Sinden unveiled a plaque that has been fixed to the statue’s plinth and gives an explanation of what it is all about.
When Hastings In Focus first wrote about Mr Jarman’s work to achieve greater recognition for the statue, gifted to the town in the early 1870s by Sir Thomas Brassey, Hastings’ then MP, a surprising number of local people did not know its history or what the story was that the statue depicts.
For more than 60 years the statue of Edith Swan-neck and her husband King Harold has been located in West Marina Gardens in St Leonards it depicts Edith finding her husband’s body on the battlefield the day after the famous battle.
The launch of, Friends of Edith, will take forward work to protect and enhance the statue. The group has already launched a website at https://friendsofedith.org.uk
The work of the group includes proposals for cleaning and sealing the statue and examining ways in which additional protection from the elements can be provided in the future. It also includes community projects to install better signage and information displays, improving the ambience and aesthetics around the statue and planting an educational and recreational 1066 Garden and wild flower plot.
Of the work ahead Ian Jarman, founder of both CARE: Campaign for A ‘Roof’ for Edith which helped raise the funds for the plaque and of the new organisation said: “It is vital that we help save this statue as it is the town’s only real connection to the Battle of Hastings nearly 1,000 years ago and it is the only monument of its kind in the UK.
“But equally our underlying remit is also not just to celebrate the statue as some sort of petrified museum piece, but to ensure that it – and the story of Edith behind it – acts as a focus for worthwhile, community-based projects and activities today. If it can be a trigger or inspiration for good causes now and in the future then the statue will have remained true to its original purpose of improving our understanding and awareness of our heritage and its legacy and thus encourage us to find ways to improve our lot. Edith should be a force for the continuing betterment of all around her.”
As part of the group’s immediate programme is an upcoming entertainment event, called Swan Songs & Sketches to help raise funds and membership being held on on January 6th at the Marina Fountain opposite the statue. Further details can be found at https://friendsofedith.org.uk/events/.
The event will consist, among other things, of a showing of local film-maker Andrew Kötting’s iconic film Edith Walks and music and performance by local jazz musician Mike Hatchard of songs from his 1066 Musical and actress Lisa Harmer- Pope as Edith Fair. Tickets are just £3 from the venue, FoE or online at Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/swan-songs-sketches-tickets-81782193743.
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