London sculpture, clocktower

Stepney Green Clock Tower sculptural panels

Stepney Green Clock Tower, to Stanley B. Atkinson.

Walking up Stepney High St from St Dunstan's, and turning left into the road called Stepney Green, a short walk brings one to the Clock Tower, put up in 1913 in memory of Stanley Atkinson. This is of interest to these pages for its two stone panels with relief sculpture: Education and Benevolence, each showing a female figure with a small boy (lots more allegorical figure sculpture accessible from this page). Education is rather damaged, with most of the surface gone bar the female figure s head and the background at the top of the panel. Nevertheless, we can still see a youthful, rather sombre figure, clad in light drapes and with a swirly cloak behind, an open book on her lap, and with a naked child kneeling at her side. As with the other panel, her arm is behind him, and her hand rests on his shoulder. It seems unlikely this panel will survive recognisably for much longer, a shame, as it is a good thing. (You can see other statues of Education on this page.) Benevolence is better preserved, with damage only to her nose and foot, and to the hand and foot of the boy. She is a youthful figure of somewhat Greek type, shown seated, semidraped and without accoutrements, one arm drawing tight a blanket around the body of the boy, and with her cloak hanging from that arm, she is also symbolically enfolding and protecting him. The boy, despite his drapes, looks Edwardian. Gilbert Seale, the architectural sculptor, was the artist (with thanks to Angela Dodd-Crompton for pointing me to this information).

Education and Benevolence panels.

Up above, by the four clock faces, are four pairs of lion s heads, all identical fierce little things biting on rings from which small festoons of fruit and flowers hang (other lions' heads may be seen near the end of this page).

The front of the monument has a plaque to Stanley B. Atkinson, 1873-1910, Barrister at Law, Stepney Borough Councillor, Guardian of the Poor, Member of the Metropolitan Asylums Board. The original site of the tower was in Burdett road, with the move to Stepney Green apparently in 1934. Another London clock tower built as a memorial to a local dignitary is at Hornsey - see end of this page.

By the tower is an old drinking fountain, with its metalwork removed, leaving a simple structure in Aberdeen and Cornish granites; the date of 1884 and the subject commemorated, Leonard Montefiore, can still be discerned, along with what appears to be a short temperance inscription. Happy the days when the benevolence of the authorities extended to providing drinking fountains for the populace.

Stepney Green granite drinking fountain, to Leonard Montefiore, 1884

Leonard Montefiore's much-maligned drinking fountain.

Top of page

Go east along Stepney Green and then down Stepney High Street to St Dunstan's

Go north and then west along Mile End Rd to Whitechapel and the Edward VII Memorial fountain