Recently as part of the long term work at Seaton the Trust’s Adviser on metal conservation came up from his studio in London, he came to assess the three large 18th cent lead statues at Seaton. These are rare representatives of what were popular 18th cent adornments to large gardens. The ones at Seaton are a group with attitude, David about to strike Goliath with a sword, Samson slaying the Philistine and the Goddess Diana, also not someone to mess around with. This assessment is part of the long term planning of potential conservation work at Seaton.
Originally these statues, larger than life size, were on the Bastions at each corner of the Haha walls, painted white they would have looked like marble and been a striking sight standing on their great curved Bastions. There are of course 4 Bastions and only 3 existing figures, we don’t as yet know what the 4th figure was. The only photo so far found is not very clear and seems to show a figure with a sheep or goat over its shoulder. Its Bastion is in the Churchyard, and it can be imagined what an incongruous figure it would have been when the Churchyard became officially Church property in the late 19th cent. Perhaps this may have been the reason for its disappearance, a minister feeling a pagan figure was unsuitable for a Churchyard… We hope the surviving stonework will hold clues as to the original figure.
The 3 figures have all had some major work in the 1980’s, there is an inbuilt problem that these statues suffer from. They have an iron armature inside, to which the lead is fixed and which is what holds the figure onto its stone base. This over time rusts, and in so doing expands, cracking the lead and eventually causing the whole statue to collapse. The other major issue is that all the statues have been moved, so that none are where they ought to be, this complicates things. As it isn’t simply a case of moving one but rather becomes a dance where each moves, together with its stone plinth, back to its original bastion. And with statues weighing 600kg and stone plinths of a tonne or so, this will call for some very large equipment. So one outcome from the adviser’s visit will be a plan for the conservation work and the potential move around.