Hercules Taming A Lion – In A Leicestershire Field


Did you know that you can spot ancient Roman hero Hercules while roaming about in modern day Leicestershire?

The Statue.

The statue is of Hercules subduing the Nemean lion, which according to Greek Mythology is the first of his 12 labours.

The first task was to find, kill and skin a lion that was terrorizing the hills of Nemea. This was punishment for killing his own wife and children.

The statue stands approximately 4 metres tall. Its heavily weathered and the statue is missing its left arm.

It is a Grade II monument first listed by English Heritage in 1966. It is currently listed as “At Risk”

Hercules Statue
Date Unknown – Notice the statue has both arms and is not weathered. (Market Bosworth Society)


The statue is located in field approximately 1 km south of Market Bosworth.

It can be seen from a footpath leading south from Bosworth Country Park. But the statue is on private land.

The statue as seen from the footpath south of Bosworth County Park.

Bosworth park was once Southwood Park and the Hercules statue was the centrepiece of a series of walks which radiated out in a star pattern.

At this time, the park was grazed by England’s only herd of pure “Black Fallow Deer”.

Date Unknown – A herd of Black Fallow Deer in Southwood Park (Market Bosworth Society)
A herd of Black Fallow Deer.
A herd of Black Fallow Deer.

Why Hercules?

After doing a little researching , I have found two possible reasons of why a Hercules statue.

The first reason is that it is a holiday souvenir and a status symbol. A trophy to show that the owner was both rich and well traveled. It is believed to be brought back from the either Greece or Italy after a grand tour by the 4th Baronet, Sir Wolstan Dixie, who was quite an eccentric character.

The second is a local legend. People say it commemorates a horse, Hercules, the largest cart horse in England and that the Hercules Revived public house (with the sign of a horse, though not a cart horse!) commemorates the same animal at Sutton Cheney. 

Although another story contradicts this local legend. After the departure of the Dixies it is said the squire of Bosworth Hall, Charles Tollemarche Scott named a racehorse after the statue and the Hercules Pub was in turn named after the horse.

Coincidentally two memorial stones lie close to the monument, over a pit where three horses are buried. Information about these monuments are at the end of the article.

The statue can be seen marked on maps dating to the mid 18th century.

Who Placed It There?

Sir Wolstan Dixie, (1524 or 1525 – 1594) was an English merchant and administrator, and Lord Mayor of London in 1585.

He was a charitable man who funded hospitals, schools and poor houses.

Wolstan Dixie, 4th Bt (1701–1767) of Bosworth Hall, Leicestershire, and his family seated around a harpsichord, by Henry Pickering (1755)
Wolstan Dixie, 4th Bt (1701–1767) of Bosworth Hall, Leicestershire, and his family seated around a harpsichord, by Henry Pickering (1755).

Horse Monuments.

Coincidentally two memorial stones lie close to the hercules statue, over a pit where three horses are buried.

The first monument is a tall narrow limestone rubble pyramid with two very weathered plaques. The upper reads: RUMPS, CHARGER OF CAPT NORTON LEGG ARC…….. The lower is illegible.

The second monument is a small round headed, tapering granite stone that has the following inscription:
BORN 1878, DIED 1892

Both these memorials were probably erected by Charles Tollemache-Scott who owned Bosworth Park at this time. And were grade two listed in January 1997.

Dog Grave In Bosworth Park. 

Also in the park there is a grave of dog, Smut, dated 1876.

The monument is in the gardens of Bosworth Hall Hotel. It’s a tall pier raised on pedestal with stoops carrying carved doves at angles, it bears an inscription and a poem written by the dog’s owner, Florence Dixie. Capped by wide shallow bowl also with carved doves.

The Dixie family seemed to be very found of their animals.

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Book Recommendations.

If you are interested in Leicester’s history then we recommend the following book (Click on the images or links below)

Leicestershire Past & Present

From the multicultural bustle of Leicester to the smaller market towns of Market Harborough and Lutterworth and evens smaller picturesque villages, Leicestershire is a unique and varied county with a rich cultural heritage. Leicestershire Past & Present contrasts a selection of 300 old and new photographs, juxtaposed to demonstrate the changes that have occurred in the scene over the intervening years. Fascinating images of town centres, housing, shops, and people at work and play bring Leicestershire’s history to life. It is a captivating insight into the changes and developments that have taken place over the years, and an enjoyable read from cover to cover.

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Links: Market Bosworth SocietyHinckley TimesLeicester Mercury

Thomas Kirkup is an engineer in the Royal Navy. Born and raised in Leicester he is fascinated by the city's long and varied history. He also hates to discus himself in the third person, but can be persuaded to do so from time to time.

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