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A new statue of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for York Minster

18 Aug, 2021

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The Dean of York, the Right Reverend Dr Jonathan Frost and stone mason Richard Bossons, today unveiled the final detail of Richard’s design for a new statue of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for York Minster.  Once completed, the statue will be placed in an empty niche adjacent to the South West Door on the West Front of the 800 year-old cathedral.

The new statue will mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne in 1952 – and pays tribute to her long life of faithful service and duty to her country and to the Commonwealth.

An expert architectural carver and stone mason, Richard has been a member of York Minster’s renowned Stoneyard team since 2011.  Richard’s design depicts the Sovereign in her Garter robes with the orb and sceptre, the symbols of her office as Head of Church and State and wearing the George IV State Diadem. Richard’s initial concept design has been developed in close consultation with York’s Fabric Advisory Committee and the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England who recently gave their permission for the principle of the statue under the Care of Cathedrals Measure, the legal framework against which all major changes to cathedral buildings are considered.

The statue will be carved from a block of Lepine stone – the French stone that has previously been used for figurative carvings on the Minster as well as the restoration of the West Window in 2000.  Once completed, the statue will stand two metres tall and will weigh nearly two tonnes. Richard will begin carving the statue in the Minster’s Stoneyard later this year and it will be installed in its niche in the autumn of 2022.

Richard said:  “There have been several challenges to overcome with this project in terms of the design.  First and foremost I have to complement the magnificent medieval façade of the Minster.  The statue needs to be part of the fabric, not a distraction from it, yet it also has to have the poise and presence befitting of the Queen’s unique role as Head of Church and State.  The figure is posed to form a protective gesture around the orb and sceptre, while Her Majesty’s gaze is aligned across the proposed Queen Elizabeth Square, the principal approach to York Minster.  She will stand proud and resolute in her niche, welcoming worshippers and visitors alike”.

The Dean of York said: “We are delighted to be marking Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and to give thanks for a life of dedication to this nation and the Commonwealth.  We are incredibly proud that the statue has been designed and will be carved by one of our own masons which is testament to the incredible craft skills we have here in our Stoneyard.

“We hope this statue will inspire the city and be a cause for celebration as we recover from the pandemic as well as setting a course to delivering our vision to create a new square at the West Front of York Minster.”

It is hoped that the new statue will eventually overlook Queen Elizabeth Square – a key part of the York Minster Neighbourhood Plan. The plan proposes the creation of a new civic and ceremonial public realm scheme which, when completed, will be the pre-eminent public space in the city of York.

Biographical details – Richard Bossons

Richard had an early interest in the creative arts. He completed a pre degree foundation course at Bournville College but quickly realised that the emphasis on fine art was not for him.  Richard was sitting in the cloister garden at Wells Cathedral when he had a ‘lightbulb’ moment.  He then tried stonemasonry and realised it was the outlet for his creative desire.

Studying at Weymouth College from 1995 – 1997, Richard obtained an NVQ3 in stonemasonry, carving and letter cutting.  He worked at Wells Cathedral in Somerset as a banker mason and carver, gaining invaluable experience of working a variety of limestones and sandstones and working high volumes of masonry with very tight lead times.  He produced work for Wells Cathedral, Blenheim Palace, churches across the UK and even a complete gothic themed bar interior that was shipped to Hong Kong.  From 1998 – 2001, Richard worked at Gloucester Cathedral’s in-house workshop carrying out banker masonry and carving on the cathedral, fixing and conservation work. Working as part of a small team Richard was exposed to a wide range of projects including dismantling and rebuilding parapets and designing and carving new grotesques for the pinnacles in the cloisters.

Richard was then self-employed from 2001-2011, working as a sub-contractor on large church restoration projects such as the design and rebuilding of the octagonal corona of Minchinhampton Church and working for specialist designers such as Rory Young and Ian Rank Broadley, gaining valuable insight and experience of their working methods and inspiring him to strive for excellence and the highest standards in his own work. During this time, Richard worked on private commissions including designing and carving memorials and restoration work on domestic properties. He was a member of the Cotswold Craftsmen and the Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen exhibiting his work at shows and in galleries.

Richard started work at York Minster in 2011.  His role encompasses all aspects of masonry, carving, fixing and conservation work on the medieval cathedral.

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