A Bexhill resident has made it his mission to help protect the statue of Edith and Harold from further erosion in West Marina Gardens.
Ian Jarman, 61, of Chantry Avenue, Bexhill, founded a campaign to call for the installation of a roof or canopy to protect the famous depiction of Edith finding the body of Harold on the battlefield of Hastings immediately after the battle in 1066.
The statue was made in 1875 by sculptor Charles Wilke and donated to Hastings in that year by Lord Brassey – MP for Hastings at the time – but Ian said the statue currently ‘bears no identification and is eroding badly in the open air’.
He added: “We have proposed a plaque and designed a storyboard as initial efforts to raise the statue’s profile but there is no public money available so we will have to rely on donations and other methods of funding. The petition will be used to help change this and support future fundraising through demonstrating a groundswell of opinion.
“The damage to the statue is irreparable, but we can protect it from further erosion (or at least slow down the rate of erosion) so that future generations can enjoy it: a roof in some form offers this possibility, while retaining ease of accessibility.”
The statue was moved to its current location at the east end of West Marina Gardens, St Leonards, from the grounds of Hastings Museum, in John’s Place in 1953.
In the past 65 years, the statue has been exposed to seafront elements resulting in the erosion of finer details, including its original inscription, as well as Edith’s nose and Harold’s left hand and right toes.
The aims of Ian’s campaign – called CARE (Campaign for a Roof for Edith) – are to install appropriate signage to increase awareness of the statue’s story and to erect a form of protection in its current location.
He hopes to raise the money through fundraising activities which will, in turn, help raise awareness and research on Edith and her milieu.
Ian added: “It’s a great part of the coast and the gardens are wonderfully peaceful.
“We are currently working on an information booklet through the Hastings Local History Group, and developing a series of trails to the statue as ways of bringing it back into the community. And it’s time for Edith to claim her rightful place in our history.”
A spokesman for Hastings Borough Council defended the lack of public money available for the project: “We are having to focus our resources where need is greatest.”
At the time of publication, Ian’s petition had received 159 out of a target of 200 signatures.
To sign the petition, please visit you.38degrees.org.uk/p/roof4edith.