Eldest daughter and I made a foray from our sickbeds today to explore St Nicholas’ church, Burton (more on which later). We then briefly went into the Department in Chester to collect mail and then to a brief visit to a park by the Dee. En route back home we decided to stop off at a memorial of some note.
We parked by the roadside just north of the Cheshire village of Farndon, which sits overlooking the River Dee, Holt and Wales beyond. Here is the Barnston memorial – set up for a local landed family of Crewe Hall – in neo-Egyptian style. Read about it here and here.
This is a striking monument in many regards; a tall and very slender obelisk with views westwards towards the Clwydians with a memorial inscription on its south side and the family name on the eastern (road side). On all four sides are sleeping lions. It is easy to forget that the entire monument is set on a square plinth raised to road height above the surrounding field that falls away to the west.
The monument records and commemorates the military life of Major Roger Barnston; a member of the local landed family whose many memorials populate Farndon church. He died of wounds sustained in the relief of the second siege of Lucknow in the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
I take students to this monument occasionally and discuss its symbolism, Egyptian appropriations and its landscape setting beside the main road from Wales to Chester. The patriotic and militaristic relationship exhibited on this monument between landlords and tenants makes this part of a trend in Victorian rural cenotaphic commemoration I’ve discussed elsewhere.
This is obviously simultaneously a public, family, local and imperial monument. It has many spatial references. Its form possesses Egyptian and classical allusions, it commemorates a military campaign in India, it is set up by an English aristocratic family, and it controls views and routes into the Welsh landscape.
Incidentally, visiting today involved a first for me: I didn’t even have to take a selfie. Instead, for the first time, my daughter took my photograph at a monument!