York House Gardens StatuesPhoto by Yvonne Hewett

The eight larger than lifesize statues - also called The Oceanides - are located at the western end of the riverside gardens at York House. They are tremendously popular with visitors of all ages, and they form the backdrop to the Richmond Shakespeare Society's summer shows.

Their story and the story of the restoration, led by York House Society chairman Dr Peter Payan:

Restoration of the Cascade in York House GardensThe plaque beside the statues. Larger view

The wording on the plaque above:

"You are in the riverside part of York House Gardens looking at sculptures carved in the renowned Italian white marble of Carrara. They represent the Oceanides, or sea nymphs of Greek mythology, and although we cannot be sure of the name of the sculptor it seems that they came from the Roman studio of Orazio Andreoni at the turn of the nineteenth century.

"These sculptures were brought to England to adorn the Surrey property of the financier Whittaker Wright, but were dispersed when in 1904 he was found guilty of fraud and unexpectedly died. Similar pieces from his collection can be seen in the Beale Wildlife Park near Pangbourne.

"The York House Garden Statues came to Twickenham in 1909 still in their packing cases, bought for £600 by the last person to own York House and arranged in their present display by the firm of J. Cheal & Sons, specialists in handling garden statuary.

"Their new owner was Sir Ratan Tata, the Indian merchant prince and philanthropist knighted by King George V. He and his wife were popular in Twickenham and used to hold parties in the gardens for local people. Sir Ratan died in 1918, and when his wife returned to India she sold York House to Twickenham Urban District Council for use as Municipal Offices. The statues were not part of the sale, but remained.

"In the late 1980s a spirited local citizen Elizabeth Bell-Wright encouraged the York House Society and the Twickenham Society to save the statues, then on the brink of destruction by neglect and vandalism. Further restoration has been carried out in 2007.

"You now see them as we hope they will remain.
"York House Society"


Since 2007 the statues have suffered from overgrown foliage and discoloration on the surface of the marble. They were cleaned by specialist contractors Holden Conservation in 2012.

Cleaning York House Garden Statues 2012Photo by Yvonne Hewett

The fountain subsequently became very overgrown. Moss and lichen continued to be a problem on the surface of the marble, and some of the statues lost fingers.

The fountain in 2019
Photo by Yvonne Hewett

In 2020-2021 they were cleaned by specialist contractors Restore London.

Cleaning York House Garden Statues 2021. Photo by John Royle, Twickenham Nub News
Photo by John Royle, Twickenham Nub News

Cleaning York House Garden Statues 2021. Photo by Maurice Parry-Wingfield
Photo by Maurice Parry-Wingfield

Cleaning the Fountain, 2020-2021: Pictures and report by Chairman Dr Paul Leonard

More information:

 

Statue and heron, York House GardensPhoto by Yvonne Hewett