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

Pair of white cats

May 2023

This is a rare pair of seated cats, approximately 13 ½” tall.  They are decorated in bright gold and date to around 1870-1880.  Harding Book Two illustrates this impressive pair on page 239.  

Tiger and lion

April 2023

This is a rare figure of a tiger and lion lying in front of a palm tree.  Circus acts with wild animals became very popular in England during the 1830s and it is possible that this figure as well as other animal figures commemorated these events. 

Lady Godiva

March 2023

This is a rare figure portraying Lady Godiva seated sidesaddle on horseback.  The figure is titled “Lady Godiva” and is decorated in the manner of the Parr factory, with soft yellow, green, and brown brushstrokes.

Lost Piece

February 2023

This is an early Staffordshire figure of a woman standing on a grassy pedestal, with a coin in her extended hand.  The figure is titled “Lost Piece” and represents the biblical verses found in Luke 15:8-10.

William Shakespeare

January 2023

This is a gilt script titled figure of William Shakespeare with his right arm resting on a book atop a pedestal.  Next to the pedestal is a sloped watch holder with a clock face painted inside, sitting atop a tree decorated with grapes.

Children on Saint Bernard dogs

December 2022

This is a very rare pair of children seated sideways on Saint Bernards.  More common figures have the children laying down or seated facing forward.  Others have the rear arms moulded into the figures, instead of being separately moulded as these are.  These figures are approximately 10” tall and date to around 1840-1850. 


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