Figure of the month

The Legend of the Parson and his Clerk (circa 1820-30)

March 2020

Many versions of this story exist but the most commonly told tale is that the Bishop of Exeter fell ill and came to Dawlish in the county of Devon to restore his health. However, an ambitious local parson aimed to succeed to the See (the bishop’s office) in the event of his superior’s demise.

The parson’s guide was his clerk and they often made the journey to check on the condition of the bishop. One night in a terrible storm, whilst crossing Haldon Moor they lost their way and found themselves miles from the correct path. The parson in his frustration abused his clerk with the words “I would rather have the devil himself, than you, for a guide.”

At that moment a horseman rode by and volunteered to be their guide.

After a few miles, they came across a brilliantly lit mansion and were invited by their guide to enter and partake of his hospitality. They enjoyed a sumptuous repast and in the midst of the merriment, the news arrived that the bishop was dead. Eager to secure his chance for promotion the parson prepared to leave, together with the clerk and the guide – but the horses refused to move. After liberal use of his whip and spurs the parson cried “Devil take the brutes!” upon which the guide exclaimed “Thank you, Sir!“ and shouted “Gee up!”. The horses galloped over the cliff, carrying the parson and the clerk with them. The devil turned them both to stone, facing forever seaward, monuments to greed and disappointed ambition.

More Figures of the month

A pair of clowns

December 2023

This is a fine pair of Staffordshire clowns, both standing 6 ½” tall, dating to circa 1860.  Each is wearing pantaloons, with the figure on the left holding a cane. 

Scottish hunter

November 2023

This is an interesting example of a Scottish hunter, wearing kilt and underglaze blue coat, with a dog at his knee and a rifle resting near his right hand.  The figure stands 14 ¼” tall and dates to about 1860.

A pair of Bullmastiffs

October 2023

This is a pair of recumbent Bullmastiff dogs, approximately 6” tall, dating to around 1850-1860. This English breed was developed as a guard dog in the nineteenth century and is also known as the Gamekeeper’s Night Dog.

Prince of Wales

September 2023

This is a rare figure of Prince Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales, second child and eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. He stands with his right hand resting on the head of a brown and white dog, and his left hand on the barrel of a rifle.

Sailors with cannon

August 2023

This is a rare Crimean War figure representing two naval gunners with a cannon. One sailor stands upright with his right foot on the cannon, and his right hand to his head as if saluting.  The second sailor is kneeling while priming the cannon. 

Winter and Summer

July 2023

This is a rare pair of Staffordshire figures representing two of the four seasons, Winter and Summer.  Each figure stands a little over 6 ½” tall and dates to around 1850 – 1860.


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