Statue of Major Francis Aglionby MP, 1843 by Musgrave Lewthwaite Watson.
Reason for Listing
This statue of Major Francis Aglionby, designed by Musgrave Lewthwaite Watson in 1843, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Designer: Musgrave Lewthwaite Watson was a talented and distinguished sculptor of national repute;
* Artistic quality: this is a statue of intrinsic artistic quality considered to be an exceptionally fine example of Watson’s vigorous style of costumed sculpture.
Major Francis Aglionby MP died in 1840 while entering court on his way to the bench in his capacity as Chairman of the Cumberland Quarter Sessions; at a subsequent inquest, the jury returned a verdict of Natural Death. Two years later it was determined to erect a life size statue to his memory to be executed by the sculptor Musgrave Watson. The completed statue was erected in 1843 in the large room originally intended as the grand entrance hall to the Criminal Court, within a few yards from his place of death. It remained in this location until urgent repairs in 1980 led to it being removed to an upper floor landing. When the new Crown Court was opened in 1992 the statue was moved to a new pedestal outside its main entrance, and at some point, in order to restrict deterioration of the statue, an impermeable paint was applied to the figure.
Francis Aglionby was an English Whig politician. He was elected as MP for Cumberland Eastern in 1837, and held this seat until his death in 1840. Aglionby also served in the Cumberland militia, where he rose to the rank of Major. He served as chairman of the county's quarter sessions in Cumberland from 1818 until his death.
M L Watson (1804-1847) was born at Dalston, near Carlisle, and left for London in 1824 to study sculpture. He met John Flaxman, studied for a short while at the Royal Academy Schools, and travelled abroad to study in Italy. For a time he worked with the leading portrait sculptor of the period Sir Francis Chantrey, and completed some of Chantrey’s works after the latter’s death. He exhibited frequently at the Royal Academy. Five of Watson’s works are listed including one of the four bronze reliefs on the base of Nelson’s Column, ‘The Battle of St Cape Vincent’ (Grade I), and his Earl of Lonsdale Statue, Carlisle (Grade II). Amongst his notable work is the portrait of John Flaxman which is exhibited in the Flaxman Gallery in University College London, and was awarded a posthumous Prize Medal at the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Materials: Caen stone on original base surmounting a later, rusticated sandstone pedestal.
The statue is set on a high pedestal immediately outside the main entrance to the Carlisle Courts of Justice. It is a life-size portrait statue, the figure facing forward in a standing attitude; the Major is represented in the dress of a country gentleman, with an outer gown, probably referring to his judicial role, elegantly tied across his breast. He carries a volume of Justice of the Peace and Parish Officer (1755) by Richard Burns in his right hand. Some physical damage has occurred to the statue, notably parts of the fingers of the left hand and part of the left foot are missing.
The front (south) face of the pedestal bears an inscribed slate plaque which reads “Major Francis Aglionby MP 1777 – 1840 for many years Chairman of the Cumberland Quarter Sessions.”
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.