National Recording Project

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Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

Ethelfleda and Athelstan

Summary

Type Statue , Street Furniture

     The pedestal for the statue consists of a circular base in the form of a seat, this supports the inscribed octagonal base of a column decorated with a spiralling line, the capital of the column is decorated with detailed relief Anglo-Saxon knotwork. This is surmounted by the statue of Ethelfreda in Anglo-Saxon dress, she holds an unsheathed sword in her right hand, her left hand is resting around the shoulders of her nephew Athelstan (later King) on whom she gazes with obvious affection. He looks up at her, protected within the folds of her cloak. The artist has given further realism to the group by the suggestion of wind moving through their garments. Beneath the immediate plinth on which they stand is a border of intertwining stylised foliage and patterning, suggesting contemporary design work.
     The statue was erected in 1913 to celebrate the millennium of the re-fortification of Tamworth by Ethelfleda during the campaign of 913AD to reconquer the Danelaw. It was unveiled by Earl and Countess Ferrers. As part of the town's celebrations, a pageant about Ethelfleda's life was enacted.
     Ethelfreda (d.918), known as 'The Lady of Mercia', was the daughter of Alfred the Great (849-899), sister of Edward, King of Wessex, and wife of Ethelred (reigned 866-871). On the death of her husband, she governed for seven years and led the defence of the Kingdom of Mercia against the Danes, fortifying Tamworth and other towns. She built palisaded fortresses against the Danes at Bremesburgh (910), Scergeat and Bridgnorth (912), Tamworth and Stafford (913), Eddisbury and Warwick (914), Chirbury, Weardburgh and Runcorn (915). In 917 she conquered Derby, the military heartland of the Danelaw. In 918 she took Leicester and most of the Danish army there submitted to her. She died while treating for the surrender of York, and is buried in Gloucester. (1) Athelstan was trained by her in 'the arts of war and kingship'. He later succeeded to the Wessex throne, dying in 943.(2)

Inscriptions

On the octagonal base of the column: A 913/ TO COMMEMORATE/ THE BUILDING OF/ THE CASTLE MOUND/ BY AETHELFLEDA/ THE LADY OF THE MERCIANS. 1913 D

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Mitchell, H C Designer
Bramwell, E G Sculptor

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Base (column and plinth) Granite 3m high overall
Statue Ashlar stone 1.5m high overall

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
STtaTAxx005 BM
General condition Good
Surface condition
  • Bird guano
  • Biological growth
  • Biological growth
Structural condition
  • Cracks, splits, breaks, holes
Vandalism
  • None
Road Holloway Road
Precise location Behind the Lodge (on Holloway Road)
A-Z ref 134 3C
OS ref SK206038
Date of design None
Year of unveiling 1913
Unveiling details Unveiled 22 May 1913
Commissioned by Tamworth Borough Council
Duty of care Tamworth Borough Council
Listing status II
At risk? No known risk

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