Mysterious benefactors behind Buxton’s new Duke of Devonshire sculpture revealed

A statue of the fifth Duke of Devonshire has been erected in a small square at the back of Buxton’s newly-reopened Crescent Hotel - paying homage to the man who first saw it built.
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The striking 7.5 ft bronze sculpture - weighing 285kg - shows William Cavendish in his favourite, every-day business clothes - reflecting his reputation as a ‘quiet sort of person’.

It was commissioned and funded by former Chapel-en-le-Frith cattle farmers Bill and Sheila Barratt over 20 years ago - to coincide with the planned reopening of the hotel.

Sheila, 77, told how the idea first came about in the late 90s when tourists asked the couple who had built the Crescent - and why there was no monument honouring the achievement.

Bill Barratt and Sheila Barratt with the new sculpture - photo by Richard DeggBill Barratt and Sheila Barratt with the new sculpture - photo by Richard Degg
Bill Barratt and Sheila Barratt with the new sculpture - photo by Richard Degg

Mum-of-four Sheila said: “We thought about it and how interesting it would be to have a statue of the fifth duke.”

Sheila told how the impressive effigy had been ready for quite some time and had been put on hold on multiple occasions over the years as the 17-year-long hotel restoration project was beset by various complications.

She added: “It was difficult because there’s no point having a statue when you don’t know where you can put it.

“We’ve not even been able to have an official opening because of coronavirus - we’re hoping that will happen next year but we’re just glad to see it finished.”

Photo by Richard DeggPhoto by Richard Degg
Photo by Richard Degg
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The couple are currently having a plaque designed to complete the monument.

Sculptor Denise Dutton - who created the figure over the course of two years - shaped it from clay using a model dressed in the typical clothes William would have worn at the time.

The work was also made a reality with support from Andrew Cavendish - the 12th Duke of Devonshire.

Trevor Osborne, a joint owner of the Crescent Hotel, said he was ‘thrilled’ with the addition to the new square.

He said: “This will be a space for all sorts of outdoor events - so the statue will be a prominent feature.

“This is a very niece piece of work - Bill and Sheila are genial and generous people and this is their way of saying what a great place Buxton is.”

The sculpture was moulded and cast by Castle Fine Arts Foundry in Powys, Wales.

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