Memorial for children of Harrogate’s Police Orphange remembered

Louise Marchal in her studio (S)
Louise Marchal in her studio (S)

In December 1918, a memorial created by Frances Darlington to remember the children of Harrogate’s Police Orphanage who went on to serve in World War One was unveiled in the foyer of their main building on Otley Road.

Miss Darlington’s work contained the names of the children at the orphanage who served during the Great War, with the names of those who lost their lives having their capitals engraved in red.

Frances Darlington (s)

Frances Darlington (s)

The memorial now sits proudly in Ripon’s Prison and Police Museum and will soon be accompanied by a piece of work created by France’s great, great niece, Louise Marchal.

Nearly a century after the memorial was unveiled, Louise has produced a piece of work in response to her relative’s sculpture which will also commemorate the World War One centenary.

‘Noble Bloods’, the creative response to the memorial, will be a multi-media installation which responds to the idea of memorial whilst exploring the shifts in social, gender and aesthetic norms

As well as the St George’s Police Orphanage World War One memorial, Miss Darlington’s public commissions also includes the plasterwork frieze at Harrogate Theatre.

It was this success as a sculptor that prompted Louise’s interest, especially considering that this was a remarkable achievement for a woman working in art during this time.

She said: “As Frances was my grandmother’s aunt, I have been fascinated with her since I was a child and have been trying to research her life and work since I was seventeen.

“As females pursuing careers as professional artists we will no doubt have experienced similar struggles and I have also recognised parallels within both of our respective work and practice.”

Ms Marchal’s fascination with her relative, and extensive research into her life and work, has resulted in the publication of a biography of Miss Darlington called ‘Finding Frances’.

After receiving Arts Council funding, Louise has been hard at work to produce a piece in response to France’s work, The St George’s Police Orphanage World War One Memorial.

The memorial portrays, in plaster, the vision of St George appearing to succour Richard Coeur de Lion with the Crusaders’ Motto ‘Deus vult’ inscribed on the pediment of the dark oak frame.

Louise’s said her response to the sculpture, ‘Noble Bloods’ focuses on the idea of the orphans being united in a sense of brotherhood through their experiences at the Harrogate orphanage and then through fighting during the war.

She said: “The St George’s boys weren’t “nobles” or “bloods” (brothers) in the true sense but through their shared experience of Harrogate and the First World War they became “bloods” and by fighting and in dying for their country, they were ennobled.”

“The knight’s tomb is a common sight in English churches as a way of representing dead nobility.

“Traditionally only nobles were remembered in this way but following the Boer War memorials naming all the dead became hugely popular. War was a social leveller, in life and in death.

“Nobility comes through deeds and not through birth, and this is something that comes up in my book about Frances Darlington.”

Noble Bloods will be shown alongside Frances Darlington’s Memorial Sculpture in the chapel at Ripon’s Prison and Police Museum until Monday, November 30.

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