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Historic England searches for region’s hidden community memorials

PUBLISHED: 00:07 05 March 2018 | UPDATED: 00:21 05 March 2018

The Prince Obolensky statue in Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Prince Obolensky statue in Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN


From Benjamin Britten to Prince Obolensky, Suffolk has immortalised many high-profile figures through public sculptures.

The Scallop in Aldeburgh. Picture: SIMON PARKER The Scallop in Aldeburgh. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Today, Historic England is calling on people from this region to provide information and images of secret, unknown or forgotten memorials in their communities.

The public body is also looking for details about rituals and activities attached to memorials.

The hunt is part of a project called Immortalised, which aims to help people explore the country’s memorial landscape – who is reflected, who is missing, and why. It will include events, an exhibition, a debate and a design competition.

The initiative will address the absence of representations of women and people of colour from statues.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: “We are creatures of memory, and every generation has commemorated people in the built environment. Their stories may involve episodes of heroism or generosity and be inspirational, or they may involve episodes which are shameful by today’s standards. They all tell us something about the lives of our ancestors. This is a terrifically important subject and that’s why we have launched the Immortalised season.

“One of Historic England’s most important jobs is to work with the public to identify and record information about what’s embedded in our streets, squares and parks, and to share it with others to enable current and future generations to understand and value their local historic environment. Exploring the stories and histories of less well-known people and groups is an important part of this, and that’s what today’s call out to the public in the East of England is all about.”

Immortalised will not tackle the subject of war memorials, which have been the subject of a separate four-year programme by Historic England.

A tribute to the composer Benjamin Britten and his music stands on the beach just north of Aldeburgh.

Unveiled in November 2003, the scallop shell sculpture was conceived by the Suffolk artist Maggi Hambling and made by Aldeburgh craftsmen, Sam and Dennis Pegg.

Prince Alexander Obolensky, who killed at the age of 24 in a fighter aircraft accident in 1940 near Ipswich, is immortalised with a statue in the town’s Cromwell Square.

Created by sculptor Harry Gray, the bronze statue was revealed in 2009 by Prince Obolensky’s niece, Princess Alexandra Obolensky.

Historic England is keen to learn more about hidden monuments, street shrines and community tributes in public places in the East of England.

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