1 : Chatterton - 2: Walpole - 3 : Tom the Church Cat
The first serious attempt at a memorial to Chatterton.
Controversial from the start, due to the erroneous belief that Chatterton committed suicide,the remains of the statue now lie on a pallet at the 'M' Shed museum, Bristol.
Chatterton was born in the Master's House, Pile Street, Redcliffe, Bristol, which has a rather splendid oval plaque on the front wall, bearing the arms of Bristol. These days the house is a café and coffee shop serving great coffee and nice buns and well worth the visit.
All that remains of Pile Street Charity School is the facade butted up against the house but at least it has a plaque noting that Chatterton attended the school, even though it was for a very short time, as he was rejected for being too dull to learn.
A rather simple oval plaque, in memory of Chatterton, is sited on a wall inside St Mary Redcliffe church, but the best memorial of all is, of course, the Muniment room; it is also known as Chatterton's Room, and is where he was supposed to have discovered Rowley's manuscripts.
There is currently an opportunity for the Chatterton's house to be incorporated into the plans for the redevelopment of the setting around St Mary Redcliffe church; perhaps they should rebuild the school as a memorial, which would give more space to present the Chatterton story.
The final plaque, which rounds off Chatterton's life, is on an office building in Holborn, London. It is close to the site of Mrs Angel's house, in which Chatterton died on the 25th August 1770 - the house is long gone.
The most recent memorial is by Lawrence Holofcener. It is a fanciful but handsome bronze statue of Chatterton sat on a park bench in Millenium Square, Bristol. The problem here is that William Seward states that Chatterton was short and stocky.
The Master's House & Charity School Pile Street. The house where Chatterton was born. The little lean-too, leads on into the Schoolroom. The sign above the door of the house, above right: 'This House was erected by Giles Malpas of St Thomas Parish Gent for the use of the Master of this School, D 1749
2 : Walpole
Now that's what I call a Memorial!
I must admit to being a little shocked that so many millions of dollars have been spent on saving Horace Walpole (sometimes called a privileged dilettante) from obscurity - totally against Chatterton's expectations, who once said: 'I shall live and stand by Rowley's side, when thou art dead and damned,' but then, Chatterton could not possibly have imagined a man like Lefty Lewis becoming infatuated with Walpole. It is thanks to Lefty's deeply obsessive character, that a fabulously grand and expensive library containing Walpole's manuscripts and artifacts, has been created. The Lewis Walpole Library at Yale University, demonstrates the architects sensitivity to the subject - what a joy it must be to sit and read a book in such surroundings!
While back in England, Horace's Strawberry Hill House, which he claimed was 'little more than a cottage' (cheeky devil), was refurbished in 2010, at a cost of £9 million, and stands as another memorial to him and his 'twaddling Letters to some Fair indite', as Chatterton once wrote.
Obviously, I was having a bit of fun with some of my remarks about Walpole but there is some truth in it. I have read some of Walpole's letters and found them entertaining and well worth the reading, but I am not so sure about Otranto? I have two editions, both are small books with one being a miniature and not easy to read - and I am not only talking about the size of the type! That being said, I will give it another go in the near future, but this time I will be wearing my 18th-century head.
I hope that this website will offer a counterbalance to the untold riches of the Walpolean behemoth!
3 : Memorial to Tom, the Church Cat
Tom, the Redcliffe Church Cat.
The headstone says all that needs to be said about the cat; it was a cat and the cat is dead!
However, we do know a little more about this illustrious feline. For a start, it went by the name of Tom and lived for nearly as long as Chatterton - but wait, all is not as it seems, there are claims that the cat's name was Blackie and not Tom; so what are we to believe? What I can add is that I have seen a photograph of the cat and it looks like a tabby to me.
There is a rumour that the cat's headstone secretly hides the grave of Chatterton - you can't blame this one on Dix - more on this in the future! (.QE!.)
As memorials go, I should mention that my own cat is also no more: Poor Tom Catterton (what else should I have called him?) was my memorial to Chatterton, he was a kitten who followed me home six years ago and decided to stay. Unfortunately he developed Leukaemia and that was the end of a much loved cat.