Statue of George Palmer

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The statue of George Palmer

The statue of George Palmer stands in Palmer Park, in Reading, Berkshire.[1] The statue, by George Blackall Simonds, was unveiled in 1891,[2] though it was originally in Broad Street and only later moved to Palmer Park.[3] The statue has been classed Grade II Listed monument since 14 December 1978.[4]


The statue in Broad Street, c. 1891

The statue was given by the towns-folk of Reading,[5] "in recognition of his services and gifts to the town",[6] and unveiled 4 November 1891,[3] the same day of the opening of the 49 acre Palmer Park.[7] Four thousand subscribed to the cost of the statue.[8] The opening of the park and the unveiling of the statue have been described as "the biggest celebration Reading had ever seen.[7]

It was originally sited in Broad Street, but was moved in 1930 to its current location.[3]

The statue depicts Palmer, standing, with top hat and umbrella clasped in his right hand, while his left holds his lapel. It was the first statue in Britain with an umbrella.[9][10]

The statue is in bronze, mounted on a substantial pink granite plinth, with moulded cornice and base.[4]


George Palmer (1818–1897) was a Quaker baker, known for his partnership with Thomas Huntley, which formed the biscuit firm Huntley and Palmers.[1] Palmer invented machinery which stamped biscuits in bulk. A noted philanthropist, he gave the site of Palmer Park to the Reading in 1891,[8] as well as King's Meadow.[6] His family also donated the site of Reading University.[1] The borough also made him a freeman of the city, the first ever honoured thus, in recognition of his many contributions to civic life.[8]


The unveiling ceremony

George Blackall Simonds (1843–1929) was a Reading sculptor and director of H & G Simonds Brewery. He exhibited consistently at the Royal Academy.[1] Simonds studied under Johannes Schilling in Dresden, and Louis Jehotte at The Academy of Brussels.[11] He created over 200 pieces in many different media.[11]

While The Falconer (1873) is in Central Park, New York,[12] much of his larger work is to be found in or near Reading. Substantial pieces were also commissioned for Indian locations, Allahabad[13] and Calcutta.[14] His too is the Bazalgette Memorial on the Victoria Embankment.

The Maiwand Lion (1866) in the Forbury Gardens is his, the statue of Queen Victoria at the Town Hall and the statue of H. Blandy, another mayor of Reading.[15] In 1922 he designed the war memorial at Bradfield, Berkshire,[16] which commemorated the deaths of local men in the First World War including his son, a lieutenant with the South Wales Borderers.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Margaret Baker (1968). Discovering Statues. 1 Southern England. Shire. p. 9. ISBN 0-85263-059-X.
  2. ^ "Budget Setting 12 13: Appendix One - Heritage Assets recognised, but for which no value can be ascertained".
  3. ^ a b c "Statue of George Palmer, Reading". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 31 January 2012.
  4. ^ a b Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1113555)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  5. ^ Charles G. Harper (1899). The Bath Road: History, Fashion & Frivolity on an Old Highway. ISBN 1465508996.
  6. ^ a b DNB "George Palmer"
  7. ^ a b Get Reading (1 November 2011). "Party in Palmer Park 120 years ago".
  8. ^ a b c "Palmer statue and delivery van, 1920s (description)". The Huntley and Palmers Collection: Reading Biscuit Town.
  9. ^ "Statues with Umbrellas". Country Life. 170. 1981.
  10. ^ Fernand Fauber (28 June 1958). "Britons Carry on as Umbrella Shields one of Finest traditions". Toledo Blade.
  11. ^ a b Raymond Simonds. "George Blackall Simonds (1843-1929)". David Nash Ford's Royal Berkshire History.
  12. ^ New York City, Department of Parks: The Falconer; "1872" in Michele H. Bogart, Public Sculpture and the Civic Ideal in New York City, 1890–1930 1989:19.
  13. ^ "George Blackall Simonds 1843–1929". The Berkshire Archaeological Journal. 75: 114.
  14. ^ "Falconer Artist Named Reading's Best". Daily Plant. 1 March 2005.
  15. ^ Margaret Baker (1968). Discovering Statues. 1 Southern England. Shire. p. 10. ISBN 0-85263-059-X.
  16. ^ "Bradfield". Imperial War Museums.
  17. ^ "Bradfield". West Berkshire War Memorials.

Further reading[edit]

  • Reading University, special collections, HP OS 508 Scrap book

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°27′07″N 0°56′19″W / 51.4519°N 0.9386°W / 51.4519; -0.9386