Calls to speed up restoration of historic statue in Priory Park

Chichester resident David Hide, standing in front of the Coade stone statue in Priory Park. Calls have been made to speed up plans for its restoration
Chichester resident David Hide, standing in front of the Coade stone statue in Priory Park. Calls have been made to speed up plans for its restoration

Plans to restore a historic statue in Chichester’s Priory Park need to be speeded up, the council has been told.

The Coade stone figure of a druid, which has been in the park for the past 140 years, has suffered from weathering and vandalism recently.

Chichester District Council agreed a budget for its restoration back in June, but there is some frustration at the pace of the project.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting earlier this month Philip Robinson, chairman of the Friends of Priory Park, asked if the council was ‘dragging its feet’.

He described the statue as ‘emblematic of Chichester’s enlightenment at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century’.

He asked: “When does it envisage that the appropriate and authoritative restoration work will begin on this statue?"

In response Tony Dignum, leader of the council, said he shared the views about the importance of restoring the statue.

The council was exploring the opportunity to work with conservation specialists and although they had not set a date for the repair works, once this had been programmed officers would share the information with all stakeholders.

He added: “I hope officers do get on with it as soon as possible because as anxious as you are to get it sorted.”

Richard Plowman (LDem, Chichester West) described how it had to be restored and not repair, as they had tried to repair the statue last time using a very qualified local stonemason but the arm dropped off ‘within a very short space of time’.

After the meeting, David Hide, who lives in Priory Road, described the statue as an important part of Chichester history with repairs ‘worth every penny’.

He added: “It’s a part of Chichester’s history and I very much hope we will see that repair brought to fruition in the months to come.”