|STATUES - HITHER & THITHER||
North West England
Sefton Park, Palm House
John Parkinson1567 - 1650
English herbalist and one of the first of the great English botanists
author of parkinsons paradisus
or the garden of pleasant flowers
Modelled from Contemporary Engravings
by L. Chavalliaud London 1807
The Palm House re-opened September 2001. The statues were renovated at the Merseyside Conservation Centre.
Henry Yates Thomson explained in a speech of 17 October 1901 why he had selected the specific statues and the inscriptions:
All towns have statues – public statues; but, as far as I know, they are generally confined to statues of kings and queens, such as George III and Queen Victoria here; or admirals and generals, such as Nelson and Wellington here; or local worthies. In thinking over the Liverpool statues – I dare say my recollection is not quite complete – I can only think of Lord Beaconsfield, Michael Angelo, and Raphael, who do not come into those categories. In my little building at Sefton Park I endeavoured to make a sort of Valhalla to those not included in these categoriesl and endeavoured to make the people of Liverpool, and especially the younger people, acquainted with men who were at the head of their profession in various ways, not only in Liverpool of in England, but all the world over.(From an unattributed photocopy in the WAG JCS files)
This being a garden park, I thought the first people to be ennobled, as far as I could do it, would be gardeners. The name of the first of these, John Parkinson, is not perhaps very familiar to you. It has not been long familiar to myself, and his statue is really there because your old townsman, Mr. Enoch Harvey, a great gardener himself, told me of his merits, and of the fact that he was the author of the first book in which flowers and plants in a garden were dealt with, not for their medical virtues, but for their beauty and scent. That was the first work of the sort, and I strongly recommend anybody who may have the opportunity to peruse it. Thus I thought that I would put him first in the list of gardeners, and there he stands in the Elizabethan costume – he was apothecary to James I – and the sculptor, being eminently practical, has also clothed him with an apron to protect his costume from the soil and dust. Well, various other gardeners are there. Andrew Le Notre is there, and when I was in Paris I saw M. Andre, the man who laid out Sefton Park, and he told me that Le Notre was a gardener-architect, and therefore he is described as such.
Having got through the list of gardeners, I thought the explorers should come in – men by whose discoveries of new plants the labour of botanists has been greatly extended. Now, any little Liverpool boy going into the park may find some inspiration in a figure in bronzze of the great Captain Cook, clad in the costume of the Navy of a previous century, and may spell out with some edification an inscription which states that James Cook was constantly at sea from his youth, and that he filled every post and every station of a seaman, from an apprentice in the coal trade to post captain in the British Navy. I think that completes what I have to say about the statues, except that one still remains to be added, and perhaps the most important of all, and perhaps the most suggestive of Liverpool. I mean the noble Genoese navigator who discovered America, and who may be said, therefore, to have been the founder of Liverpool in its great development of American trade. His portrait was very difficult to get, not because there were not many portraits, but because none of them resembled the other. My artist has done the best he could, but whether the features are like or not, the attitude is significant, because he is represented looking to the West, with his hands over his eyes, scanning the distant horizon to see if possible that great continent which ought to have borne his name. His motto I shall take, with your permission, from an inscription in Spanish at Seville, which I saw long ago, the translation of which means, "Columbus, o'er the Atlantic main, found a new world for glorious Spain." His bones were recently carried from Havanna, where they were refound, to a final and more fitting restingplace in Seville Cathedral and there, I hope, they will no longer be disturbed, because that is the most appropriate final restingplace for them; but I cannot imagine a more appropriate place for his statue than Liverpool.