On a side street in Chelsea is a sculpture of two children playing, and they were made by a man who also designed a number of costumes for Doctor Who.

Allister Bowtell is the artist, a former chairman of Chelsea Arts Club, who designed the leaping children, officially called Two Pupils and they were commissioned by the local landlord, Cadogan Estates and unveiled in March 2003 as part of the Duke of York Square development.

The sculpture is not just fun to look at, but has a link with local history.

Just around the corner is the Saatchi Gallery, and it’s housed in a grand building that was originally a boarding school – the Royal Military Asylum – founded in 1801 by royal decree to teach the children of soldiers’ widows a trade. Later a military barracks, it was bought back by the Cadogan Estate in 1999.

Children of the Asylum are now commemorated in the bronze sculpture of the Two Pupils (also called My Children in some reports) They were unveiled on 19th March 2003, the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Royal Military Asylum in 1803.

A quirk is the bollard the boy is leaping over. It’s not real, as in an original bollard from 1814, but a fibreglass replica of a bollard that can be found on the corner of nearby Hans Street. Apparently, there’s text on the stone plinth the girl sits on but I wasn’t able to find it. Looking at some older photos and my photos, it seems to have been covered over at some point.

Although Allister designed the two children, the plinth was designed by Richard Kindersley, and the bollard by Gabby and Chris Nash.

Away from public art though, Allister Bowtell was also a prolific designer for television, coming up with the Cybermen costumes in Revenge of the Cybermen, and Omega’s costumer in The Three Doctors. He also designed Emu for Rod Hull, props for Monty Python and The Goodies, and body moulds for The Joys of Sex.

So when you’re looking at two children leaping, just imagine that you’re looking at young Cybermen instead.


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One comment
  1. David says:

    I have seen these a few times but never knew the story behind them. What a fabulous few pieces of trivia to be able to bring out, next time I am passing them with a friend! Thank you Ian!

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