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Statue of Princess Pocahontas in the Churchyard of the Church of St George

A Grade II Listed Building in Pelham, Kent

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.444 / 51°26'38"N

Longitude: 0.368 / 0°22'4"E

OS Eastings: 564661

OS Northings: 174327

OS Grid: TQ646743

Mapcode National: GBR NMK.HVG

Mapcode Global: VHJLC.BYDX

Entry Name: Statue of Princess Pocahontas in the Churchyard of the Church of St George

Listing Date: 3 July 1975

Last Amended: 9 March 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1057700

English Heritage Legacy ID: 356412

Location: Gravesham, Kent, DA11

County: Kent

District: Gravesham

Town: Gravesham

Civil Parish: Non Civil Parish

District Council Ward: Pelham

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Church of England Parish: Gravesend St George

Church of England Diocese: Rochester

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Listing Text

This List entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 06/01/2017


TQ 6474 SE,
1/1A

PRINCES STREET (West Side),
Statue of Princess Pocahontas in Churchyard of the Church of St George

II

C20. A metal standing figure of a Native American princess on a stone plinth which
tapers outwards towards the base.


Listing NGR: TQ6466274327

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

Summary

A C20 life-sized bronze statue of the Native American Princess Pocahontas, of 1957, cast from the original by WA Partridge.

Description


A C20 life-sized bronze statue of the Indian Princess Pocahontas, of 1957, cast from the original by WA Partridge.


DESCRIPTION: the life size bronze statue depicts Pocahontas in Native American dress, and stands c1.5m high. Pocahontas is walking with head held high, and arms open as if pleading with her father to spare the life of the settler John Smith. Her countenance is concerned, reflecting the tension of the moment. She faces N in the direction of the River Thames, from which she arrived at Gravesend. The base is a battered granite plinth which is c2m tall, making the whole monument c3.5m in height. To the top of the plinth there is an inset panel with carved crossed-spears on a bed of leaves, and the inscription '1595-1617'. Lower down, the plinth carries the carved inscription 'POCAHONTAS'. The monument is situated in the Princess Gardens, Gravesend, Kent, adjacent to the W door of the Church of St George.


This List entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 13/04/17

History

The statue in Gravesend commemorates the remarkable story of a Native American woman, known in popular folklore as Pocahontas. It was presented to the Church of St George to recognise her burial place beneath the chancel. It is a copy of the original casting by the American artist WA Partridge (1861-1930), which was unveiled in 1922, and stands in Jamestown, Virginia, USA. Partridge’s sculptural work consisted mostly of portrait busts, but he was also a portrait painter, university professor and an author of art history. Partridge was also a recognised member of the second generation of the Beaux Arts-trained American sculptors, and his later work includes a equestrian monument to General Ulysses S Grant, 1895, in Grant Square, Brooklyn, New York. The reproduction of the Pocahontas statue was given to the British people in 1957 by the governor of Virginia to commemorate the 350th anniversary of her death.

Pocahontas was a Powhatan Native American woman, born around 1595, and well known for her involvement with the English colonial settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. It is suggested that she saved the life of the Englishman John Smith, by placing her head upon his own at the moment of his execution. She was the daughter of Powhatan, the leader of an alliance of about 30 Algonquian-speaking groups and chiefdoms in Tidewater Virginia known collectively as the Tsenacommacah. Like many women of her tribe she probably had several names, to be used in various contexts. Early in her life she was called Matoaka, but was later known as Amonute.

The name Pocahontas means 'naughty one' and was probably used in a casual context. Pocahontas was primarily linked to the English colonists through Captain John Smith, who arrived in Virginia with more than 100 other settlers in April 1607. After he left for England, she spent a year within the English encampment as a captive, and during this time Pocahontas converted to Christianity and took the name Rebecca. She later married the colonist John Rolfe on 5 April 1614 (and was known as Rebecca Rolfe). In 1615, Pocahontas gave birth to a son (Thomas Rolfe), and soon became a symbol of Indian religious conversion, one of the stated goals of the Virginia Company. The company decided to bring Pocahontas to England as part of a campaign to secure more funding, and to recruit new settlers.

The Rolfes travelled to England in 1616, arriving at the port of Plymouth on 12 June with a small group of indigenous Virginians. Pocahontas was well received by English society and was presented to the Queen Consort Anne. During their stay they lived for six months at a house in Brentford, possibly as the guest of the 9th Earl of Northumberland. The Earl’s brother George Percy was part of the original Jamestown expedition and was Governor (1609-10). In March of 1617, the Rolfes boarded a ship to return to Virginia, but by the time they reached Gravesend, Pocahontas fell ill. She came ashore, where aged only 22, she died, probably of pneumonia or tuberculosis. Her funeral took place on 21 March 1617. In 1727 the medieval Church of St George was destroyed by fire. Pocahontas is thought to lie beneath the chancel of the rebuilt Georgian church, which also contains two stained glass windows depicting Rebecca and Hannah which were donated to the church by the Colonial Dames of America in 1914. There is also a commemoration stone, recording the burial spot of Pocahontas.

Many films about Pocahontas have been made, beginning with a silent film in 1924 and continuing into the C21. She is one of the best-known Native Americans in history, and one of only a few to appear regularly in historical textbooks.

Reasons for Listing

The Statue of Princess Pocahontas, a bronze statue of 1957, cast from the 1922 original by WA Partridge, installed in the Princess Gardens in 1957, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Historic association: commemoration of the Native American Princess Pocahontas, who was influential in the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia, and died at Gravesend in 1617 after a celebrated visit to England;
* Artistic interest: a sculpture of good artistic quality, realistically modelled, well composed, and representative of Partridge’s later work;
* Group value: with the Grade II*-listed Church of St George.

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