Date for reinstallation of ‘lost’ statues

Published: July 23, 2021

Statue of the virgin Mary holding the hands of a toddler childTwo statues are being reinstalled in the tower of St John Baptist Church, Cirencester, after being ‘missing’ for 58 years.

The statues of St John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary were taken down for safety reasons in 1963, and subsequently lost.

For the past two years, a project team has been working to have them reinstalled.  Following a national design competition, won by sculptor Rodney Munday, the two statues will be installed into the tower in the first week in August.   The two saints are cast in bronze and are over 2m tall.

The intention is to install the statues on 3 and 4 August.

The innovative and dynamic design means that they will “lean out” of the vacant niches in the tower, so that the faces will look down on the people in the streets below.

Sculptor Rodney who is also a farmer, said his inspiration for St John came following attendance at a church service in Cirencester, when a parishioner showed him a window depicting St John holding a lamb. In his design, the adult John holds out the lamb of a Cotswold Lion sheep to the town, reflecting the town’s historical link with the wool trade and the building of the church as a “wool church”.

Depicting the Virgin was more challenging; he wanted to show a modern relevance to her role.  So he chose to depict her holding Jesus as a small boy, not a baby, and as a curious child who is looking out excitedly to see what is happening in the world, yet also prefigures the crucifixion.

The Revd Canon Graham Morris, vicar of Cirencester has said, “I am so excited about this project, and now to see it coming to fruition is fabulous. Our church oozes history and these statues will be part of our future and ongoing history.”

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