Cliveden's Spirit of Liberty statue flies in

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An iconic view has been restored following the installation of a new ‘Spirit of Liberty’ statue on top of the Clock Tower.

The golden ‘Spirit of Liberty’ is a winged nude, perched on one foot holding the torch of civilisation in one hand and the remains of his broken chains in the other.

The new statue is a faithful recreation of the original ‘Spirit of Liberty’, which topped the highly ornate Clock Tower in the 1860s.

Missing statue

Unfortunately, Cliveden’s original statue was damaged beyond repair when it fell from the tower during a storm in the mid 20th century, and its whereabouts is now unknown.

The statue was a smaller version of Augustin Dumont’s sculpture made for the July Column in the Place de la Bastille, Paris.

It was believed to have been made from timber with a copper-sheet coating decorated with leaf gilding.

The 30-metre (100-foot) Clock Tower itself was built by Henry Clutton in 1861 for the estate’s then owners, the Sutherland family.

The damaged original was replaced in the 1950s by a poorly modelled and anatomically inaccurate cast bronze copy. This was removed from the roof in the 1990s during restoration works. 

An exciting discovery

In commissioning a new ‘Spirit of Liberty’, we worked with metalwork and sculpture specialists Rupert Harris Conservation to research the statue.

The team unearthed the original mould in a museum in Sumur-en-Auxois, a small town in France. This let us make an exact copy of the original statue.

The mould was meticulously measured so the 220cm-high figure could be accurately modelled in clay. A new mould was taken from the clay sculpture, which was then used to cast the figure in bronze.

The final finish of two coats of gilding was carefully applied using 23.5 carat gold leaf.

The statue was lifted into place by a crane and fastened to the orb on top of the tower with the help of two steeplejacks in a complex procedure that took five hours.

The project has cost almost £68,000, of which £7,600 was raised by Cliveden’s visitors who purchased raffle tickets in 2011.