The History of Leicester’s Statues: John Henry Manners

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Ever wondered what is the history is behind Leicester’s statues? Who are these people that are sculpted in bronze to be ever immortalised by generations to come? Our first part in this series of posts is the 5th Duke of Rutland, John Henry Manners. The Statue can be found at Leicester Market.

Location.

Leicester’s first-ever statue of a public figure was unveiled back in 1852. The statue is of the 5th Duke of Rutland, John Henry Manners. It sits next to Leicester Market in front of the stairs of the Corn Exchange (now a pub).

The statue is famous through the residents of Leicestershire for the most part by having a can of beer placed in the hand of the statue, Leicester’s answer to Glasgow’s famous Duke of Wellington traffic cone prank. This might have something to do with the Duke having a look of intoxication on his face.

The Duke.

John Henry Manners was born in 1778 in London. He was a breeder of racehorses and Lord Luitenent to Leicester. He, his wife and 10 children resided at Belvoir Castle. The Duke was well respected in Leicester, giving money to deserving local charities and supporting the Leicester Royal Infirmary in its early days. He was also a trustee of the British Museum.

He was the grandchild of John Manners, Marquess of Granby, who was a famous Commander of the Seven Years’ War. Many public houses are named after him.

The history of the statue.

The statue, sculpted by Edward Davis, was first exhibited at the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace, London in 1851.

It was finally unveiled a year later at the market square by Sir Frederick Gustavus Fowke, Provincial Grand Master of Freemasons for the Province of Leicestershire. It is marked:

“JOHN HENRY DUKE OF RUTLAND, KG LORD LIEUTENANT OF LEICESTERSHIRE. THE INHABITANTS OF THE COUNTY & TOWN OF LEICESTER DURING THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF HIS HIGH OFFICE WITH UNIVERSAL CONSENT CAUSED THIS STATUE TO BE ERECTED M.DCCC.Lii.

PRAESENTI TIBI MATUROS LARCIMUR HONORES.”


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Book Recommendations.

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

Fearless: The Amazing Underdog Story of Leicester City

The King’s Grave: The Search for Richard III

Leicester Murders


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Thomas is fascinated by the city's long and varied history. He also hates to discuss himself in the third person but can be persuaded to do so from time to time.
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  1. Though other online sources quote the Latin inscription as you do, the fourth word should be LARGIMUR. (I looked at the plinth yesterday and the “G” is fairly clear.) I have found that the words come from Horace (Epistle II.1, line 15) and mean something like, “Upon you, while still among us, we bestow timely honours,” referring to the fact that the statue was erected while the Duke was still alive and in office.

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