Quick Links: The Artist / The Legend
For those of you relatively new to Carshalton, you would never have seen the wooden Sculpture of Tudor Queen, Anne Boleyn at Church Hill.
The empty plinth is where she once stood, and for nearly 50 years this prestigious sculpture has overlooked the site of Anne Boleyn’s Well. Incredibly this historic spot has been named this way for over 400 years. 1
But how did she get here, and where has she gone? Let’s investigate.
The site of the statue
When the old cottages that stood on Church Hill opposite All Saints were demolished, to mark the spot by the famous well, the architects of the new Church Hill House had this special nook created. A local remembers:
“I lived at 3 Piers Cottages on Church Hill from the age of 3 years, they were demolished in the late 1950’s at the same time as Orchard Hill Cottages nearby” 2
The Anne Boleyn statue has always been there:
“It was there from the completion of the house” 2
On 18 March, 1967 the Sculpture was officially unveiled by Gavin Astor, the 2nd Baron Astor of Hever Castle in Kent – where Anne Boleyn and her family once lived. In 1955, he founded the Astor of Hever Trust, a charity aimed to collect donations for the arts. He held the chairmanship of the Times Publishing Company and life presidency of Times Newspapers Ltd.3
On this special occasion the Sculpture was ‘presented’ by the architect firm Thompson & Gardener. At this point I’ve been unable to find out any more about the business.
This same year, The Anne Boleyn carving was the winner of a prestigious Sir Otto Beit medal for the best sculpture outside London, and within the UK and the commonwealth (in those days, Carshalton being still classed as Surrey). The medal was given via The Royal Society of Sculptors, and was one of the most highly regarded accolades. 4
The chosen artist and his work
The eye-catching statue adds so much charm to the history and heritage of Carshalton and was carved by renowned Sculptor, Furniture Designer and Author, Dennis Huntley FRBS. He was once a pupil of Wallington Boys School. A local remembers:
“The artist lived near Oxford Road [Carshalton], I saw him carving it in his front garden.” 2
Dennis Huntley is an extraordinary man who is now aged 92, and around 10 years ago he carefully removed the statue to repair it. Dennis has created many amazing works of art, and carved in stone the images of the Disciples at Guildford Cathedral (where The Omen movie was filmed).
“When I was 26 I met the sculptor and he told me it was all carved out of one piece of wood, chosen for its need to have her arms projecting out. It needs to be painted always in boat colours and boat paints.” 5
Dennis and his family are the current custodians of this precious carving, and we’d love to see it being enjoyed by the community once more. What’s your thoughts on the Anne Boleyn Sculpture. Please leave your comments below.
- “Despite these various stories, the first documentary record of “Anne Boleyn’s Well” appears on the Arundal map of c. 1610 – 1620″ link
- Comments via Francis Frith
- Gavin Astor – wikipedia
- The Sutton Heritage Plaque under the missing community artwork
- Local Facebook Forums
- Anne Boleyn statue photo purchased and thanks to Julia Gavin / Alamy Stock Photo
- Carving is right-released via Wikipedia
- The rest are Author’s own
Brilliant Boleyn! The Artist and the Architects
Brilliant Boleyn! Exploring the legend of Anne Boleyn in Carshalton
Kings and Queens of Carshalton – Uncovering 500 years of Royal visits and connections
I would like to see the statue returned, however that must be subject to ownership and the wishes of the owner. If the sculptor is not the owner, then why did he remove it? – was he asked to restore it or something he did of his own volition? Has the statue been restored (that being the reason given for its removal? Where is it now? Is it still in a condition allowing its return?
If the statue is not able to be returned, then I would like to see another in its place.
I know Dennis hasn’t been well – perhaps he hasn’t been able to complete the restoration? It’s a wonderful sculpture and I would love to see it back in pride of place. I’ve loved it since my childhood in the seventies…
We’ve seen a recent-ish picture of the statue on Facebook and it looks amazing – in perfect condition
RIP Dennis Huntley.. December 2021 aged 93yrs
That is so sad, my condolences to the family.
That is very sad news, thinking of his family.
I do hope the Anne Boleyn statue is returned, I look for it each time I visit the area.