Monument to John Brooks (1788-1849) and his wife (d. 1851), c1851, by the sculptor and architect John Thomas.
Reason for Listing
The monument to John Brooks in St Mary's churchyard, Prestwich, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Sculptor: it was designed by the nationally renowned sculptor and architect John Thomas, who was one of the leading sculptors of the C19, and it is an excellent example of his smaller-scale work
* Design quality: its ornate Italianate design possesses an acute attention to detail and superior level of quality, craftsmanship and execution
* Group value: it has group value with the Grade I listed St Mary's Church and the other listed monuments and structures in the St Mary's churchyard
St Mary's Church, Prestwich, dates to the C14 with later alterations, and the oldest extant grave marker in the churchyard dates to 1641. However, the topography of the churchyard suggests a much older burial ground. The churchyard has been extended many times, including in 1827 when boundary walls were constructed. Prior to these walls being erected the churchyard was enclosed by a ditch and hedge created in 1706, and subsequently by the planting of beech and fir trees in 1763. Further extensions of the churchyard occurred in 1864, 1886, 1924 and 1950.
The western section of the churchyard contains, amongst other graves, the unmarked burials of thousands of inmates of the County Asylum Prestwich dating from the mid-C19 to early-C20, although several communal graves for the asylum's attendants and some inmates are marked by grave slabs. In 1801 a hearse house (altered in the mid-late C20) was constructed to the north of the church.
John Brooks was a partner in the calico printing firm of Cunliffe & Brooks with a mill near Blackburn. He was also Secretary of the Anti Corn Law League and a philanthropist. His monument by John Thomas cost approx £3000.
John Thomas (1813-1862) is a renowned British sculptor and architect who was one of the most prolific and successful sculptors of the Victorian age. Thomas's great skill led to him coming to the attention of Sir Charles Barry who employed him first to produce the ornamentation and sculptural work for Birmingham Grammar School (Barry's collaboration with AWN Pugin, now demolished), and subsequently as the Supervising Carver on the construction of the Palace of Westminster. During his career, Thomas worked on commissions in both England and Scotland, and was also a favourite of Prince Albert, working for him on several occasions at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. As well as his sculptural work, Thomas was also a highly successful architect who designed numerous buildings, including: Somerleyton Hall and Somerleyton model village, Suffolk for Sir Morton Peto; Headington Hill Hall, Oxford for James Morrell; and Preston Hall, Aylesford, Kent (now a hospital) for Edward Betts.
White Sicilian marble and granite, tall square aedicule approx 4.8m high with statues in niches, Italianate style.
Panelled pedestal of granite set upon a large, square stone plinth (original enclosing railings now removed), entrance to vault below monument is set to south side of plinth and is now filled in and covered with tarmac. Square aedicule above of Sicilian marble with niches containing life-size carved female figures in classical dress to each face framed by decorated piers; each face is pedimented (pediments contain carved wreaths to north, south and east sides, shield to west side) with a bracketed cornice beneath interspersed with carved medallions. East and south faces are weathered. North face contains the figure 'Industry' depicted with a wheel; west face contains the figure 'Commerce' depicted with bales of cotton/calico; east face contains the figure 'Charity' (exhibited at the Great Exhibition, 1851) depicted with babes in arms; and the south face contains the figure 'Integrity' depicted holding a book. Carved decoration to piers and spandrels includes depictions of cotton and flax plants, roses, poppies and oak and laurel leaves. Pedestal panel to west face contains inscription, which reads 'SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF/ JOHN BROOKS,/ BORN NOVEMBER XXIII.MDCCLXXXVIII./ DIED OCTOBER XXVII.MDCCCXLIX./ ALSO TO ALICE HIS WIFE/ BORN DECEMBER VI.MDCCXCIV./ DIED JUNE VII.MDCCCLII'.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.