This bronze statue is by Leslie Cubitt Bevis (1892-1984) and was cast at the Morris Singer foundry. It’s also quite unusual for modern times, as the face and hands have been gilded.

Around his neck is the crucifix he wore to the scaffold at the Tower of London, and on his knees, a gold collar, decorated with a Tudor rose, modeled on a collar that King Henry VIII gave to Sir Thomas More.

His signature is cast in the base, enlarged and taken from one of his documents, and on the stone plinth, three sides have Scholar, Statesman and Saint carved into them. He was canonised by the Catholic Church in 1935.

The location is significant as its close to the riverside estate that Sit Thomas More owned and next to the church where he regularly worshiped.

The statue was unveiled in July 1969, with Dr Horace King, Speaker of the House of Commons, with Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of Westminster, and the Moderator of the Free Church in attendance.

At the ceremony they stressed the need for religious tolerance and freedom. Dr King said of Saint Thomas, “he died that we might worship God in our own way.”

His head is turned slightly upriver, said to be looking at his final journey to the Tower of London.

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3 comments on “London Public Art: Sir Thomas More
  1. JP says:

    ’tis downriver in fact.
    The village of Celchyth founded 789 AD contained the estate of Saint Sir Thomas which Henry VIII dissolved to his sixth and last wife Catherine Parr in 1536+.
    Along the river Thames and past Westminster Abbey, former owner of More’s legacy and Parr’s prize, lies of course, the Tower of London founded some three centuries later in 1066 where the principled priest met his untimely end and towards which his statue wistfully nods its golden faced head.

  2. Local Lad says:

    Chelsea Old Church behind the statue contains the tomb of More’s first wife. It carries the epitaph he wrote for himself upon resigning the Chancellorship, 6 years before his execution.

  3. Nicholas Reed says:

    How splendid that this statue of Sir Thomas More is in naturalistic colour. Not lurid colour, but looking as he would in life, although the skin colour is more gold than pink. Is this the only statue in this country which is in colour, rather than totally black? It apparently dates from 1969, but in the fifty years that have passed since then, I know of no public statue which has followed its example. (Is there one?) The opposite extreme is seen in the foyer of the Drury Lane Theatre. There, the statue of Sir Noel Coward is totally black, against a dark background. It is almost impossible to see, or photograph. For a man who liked and appreciated bright colours, and used them in his paintings, could we not colour him in, in some way? Writing as a humble member of the Noel Coward Society, perhaps this is something the Society should take up?

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