architecture, garden history, Monument, Obelisk, public park, Worcestershire

Earl of Plymouth Monument, Bromsgrove Lickey, Worcestershire

In 1833 Other Archer Windsor, 6th Earl of Plymouth, died. Almost immediately there were calls to erect a monument in his honour, and a public subscription was raised. With funds in place, the foundation stone was laid in May 1834. The chosen site was on Bromsgrove Lickey, a prominent eminence which would ensure that the obelisk would be an ornament to the landscape and visible from miles around.

Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830) Portrait of Other Archer Windsor, Earl of Plymouth, c.1817. Bequest of Donald McLeod Lewis in memory of Mabelle McLeod Lewis. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (Legion of Honor). Public Domain.

Other Archer Windsor, 6th Earl of Plymouth (1789-1833) had a seat at Hewell Grange, in Worcestershire, which had been in the family since the middle of the 16th century, and he seems to have been well-respected locally. Announcing his death in London in July 1833, having just turned 44, Aris’s Birmingham Gazette wrote that the ‘sudden removal of the Noble earl in the midst of life and usefulness, is no less a loss to his county than to the extensive circle and neighbourhood in which he moved’.

Hewell Grange. Watercolour by Harriet Windsor-Clive, Baroness Windsor (1797-1867). Royal Collection Trust RCIN 921496 ©His Majesty King Charles III 2024. The mansion seen here was left standing as a romantic ruin in the late 19th century after a new hall was constructed nearby.

The appeal for funds to build a monument was led by members of his former regiment, the Worcestershire Yeomanry Cavalry, but the public were encouraged to donate. By January 1834 about £800 had been collected, and the committee agreed to procure designs and estimates (almost £1000 would be collected in total). The site, on the late earl’s land, was chosen for its ‘elevation and contiguity to the Hewell demesne’.

Print issued around the time the foundation stone was laid in 1834, showing the how the obelisk would look upon completion. Reproduced courtesy of Keith Woolford.

The foundation stone of the obelisk was laid by Lord Lyttleton of Hagley Hall, Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire, on Thursday 15 May 1834 and a print was issued showing the proposed design. Lyttleton recorded the occasion in his diary, noting the ‘pretty’ design of the monument.

Medal to commemorate the Earl of Plymouth. It was presumably struck to mark the completion of his monument. ©Trustees of the British Museum. (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

William Bain designed a medal to commemorate the occasion with the inscription Plaudente et Lucente Comitatu – with the approbation and honour of his county. The laying of the foundation stone is noted on the north side of the obelisk, and on the south is the following inscription:

Loudon’s Architectural Magazine announced that the obelisk was to stand 91 feet and 6 inches tall, and was to be built of Anglesey marble. The magazine gave the architect as John Hanson, and the contractor as John Welch, but Hanson sounds suspiciously like the architect Joseph Aloysius Hansom, and the Worcester Journal of 15 May 1834 confirms that the obelisk was designed by Hansom and his partner Edward Welch. Their practice had won the competition to design the new Birmingham Town Hall in 1830, and that too was under construction in Anglesey stone in May 1834 when Hansom and Welch were dramatically declared bankrupt. At that point the financially embarrassed Hansom and Welch seem to have been quietly expunged from the records (the John Welch commissioned to build the monument was Edward’s brother).

The design for the monument as featured in Loudon’s Architectural Magazine in December 1834. The writer noted an unusual feature: instead of being straight the sides of the pedestal were ‘battered’, that is they taper upwards instead of being straight

The site was within a plantation of larches and firs, some of which were felled to create a broad grassy swathe which allowed ‘as good a general view of the obelisk as possible’. Lord Lyttleton’s diary suggests that the original plan was to have two broad rides to ‘shew the obelisk on its four faces’, but the idea was clearly abandoned.

The Monument, Bromsgrove, Lickey, 1852 by Elijah Walton (1832-1880). 1920P426. Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust, licensed under CC0.

Throughout the 19th century visitors were welcomed, but only if permission had been granted. In August 1872 the British Medical Association organised a ‘Worcestershire Excursion’ and having seen the ‘splendid gardens’ at Hewell Grange they went via the private drive through Lickey Woods to see the monument. Elijah Walton’s 19th century view captures the romance of the ride.

The Road To The Monument by Elijah Walton 1920P442. Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust, licensed under CC0

In the first half of the twentieth century land at Lickey was gradually acquired by Birmingham Corporation. The hills became a popular recreation place for the people of Birmingham and the surrounding area, with trams bringing huge numbers of visitors out of the prosperous, but polluted, city: ‘Lickey for Health, Birmingham for Wealth’ as an old saying goes.

Early 20th century postcard. Courtesy of the Dave Martin Collection.

The crumbling grade II listed monument has been patched up over the years, and in the 1950s steel bands were fitted to hold the column together – the Anglesey stone blocks were becoming detached from the hollow brick core. It was fully restored in 1995, when there was controversy over the costs. Although technically within the Hereford and Worcester boundary, the £85,000 costs were largely met by Birmingham City Council as owners of the land. ‘OUTRAGEOUS!’ hollered the headline in the Birmingham Mail when it was revealed that the project had cost ‘cash-strapped Brum’ double the expected sum of £41,000.

The obelisk today on a dark and dank March morning.

Sadly the vistas cut through the woods have long since become overgrown, and the obelisk stands in a clearing encircled by trees. There are no longer views over the countryside, and it has lost its function as an elegant eye-catcher. A third painting by Elijah Walton depicts the lost view from the obelisk, and shows that the Flâneuse was not the only one to visit on a dreary day

From The Monument Hill – Thunderstorm by Elijah Walton 1920P439.
Image courtesy of Birmingham Museums Trust | CC0 1.0

The Lickey Hills Country Park remains a popular local attraction

And this website will tell you all you need to know about the area

Thanks to Michael Cousins for sharing the extracts from Lord Lyttleton’s diary

… and thanks to you for reading. If you would like to share any thoughts or memories please scroll down to the contact box at the foot of the page to get in touch.



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4 thoughts on “Earl of Plymouth Monument, Bromsgrove Lickey, Worcestershire”

  1. Jane says:

    Why was he called Other? Imagine shouting that across a playground!

    1. Editor says:

      It’s unusual isn’t it! It has been used in the family for generations and apparently has Saxon origins. That’s about the extent of my knowledge I’m afraid.

  2. David Winpenny says:

    ‘Other’; did he have elder brothers called ‘This’ and ‘That’?

    1. Editor says:

      Very good David!

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