The Boer War Memorial, Norwich, by the sculptor G. E. Wade

View and statue of G. E. Wade's Boer War Memorial, Norwich.

Sited at a busy road junction, at the meeting of Market Avenue and Castle Meadow, and one of the natural routes for visitors passing from the railway station to the town centre, Norwich’s Boer War Memorial must be walked or driven past by an enormous number of people. It consists of a tall, shrine-like structure of Portland stone. The square base, with low steps on each side, is surmounted by an entablature with rectangular bronze panels, which itself forms the base of the main pedestal, also square sided, which lists those who died in battle on bronze panels on each side, domed at the top so the impression from a distance is of a dark window into the interior of the monument. At each corner is a Corinthian pillar, and atop are shelves and a further entablature, before a baroque sloping roof with ribbed edges. At the narrow top of this, rather than a point, is a small globe, on which stands a bronze angel, her wings aloft. She is on tiptoes, just landing on the globe and is holding her long, slender sword to plunge it back into the scabbard at the outbreak of peace. The pose is arresting – her wings stretch high and form graceful arches and silhouettes against the sky from different poses, and it is these views which mark out the statue as something special. When we look at her close up, we see a rather rounded face, eyes cast down, her hair rather short, Edwardian style, and combed back, with a wreath of olive leaves atop. Her limbs are slender, the arms soft and feminine rather than muscular, her body and legs emphasised rather than concealed by her diaphanous drapes, which are somewhat in the style of the right hand Nereid of the monument of that name in the British Museum.

Silhouettes, left and right view.

The sculptor, George E. Wade, is not so well known, and exhibited more by way of portrait sculpture than ideal and allegorical figures such as this. On his page on this site, however, may be seen his figure of Truth, who again is standing on a globe.

Many towns and cities have a Boer War Memorial, and the sculpture generally falls into two types – the Angel of Peace, or Victory, like this one, or one or more soldiers in or returning from battle. Being at the height of the New Sculpture movement and of art nouveau, such memorials are often very beautiful and naturalistic. A few of them are pictured on these pages, most notably those of W.R. Colton and Albert Toft, and here, below, is a rather dainty trophy to the memory of the Boer War by Florence H Steele, chosen on the sole ground that it too features an angel atop a ball.

Florence Steele's Boer War trophy.

The sculptor, George E. Wade, is not so well known, and exhibited more by way of portrait sculpture than ideal and allegorical figures such as this. On his page on this site, however, may be seen his figure of Truth, who again is standing on a globe.

There are a handful of other statues in Norwich, and good memorial sculpture in various of the churches, a few of which are noted on this site, starting from this page. Before closing, we should note that on a stone-fronted building almost facing the Boer War Memorial are three interesting keystones: two portrait heads and a bull (lots more keystones on this page).

Three keystones.

This page was originally part of a 'sculpture of the month' series, for August 2012. Although the older pages in that series have been absorbed within the site, if you would wish to follow the original monthly series, then jump to the next month (Sept 2012) or the previous month (July 2012). To continue, go to the bottom of each page where a paragraph like this one allows you to continue to follow the monthly links.

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