Statement of Special Interest
A highly expressive war memorial figure sculpture by the internationally successful, locally born sculptor Thomas J Clapperton (1879-1962), situated near the church at the heart of Minto.
Clapperton was born in Galashiels, and studied at the Glasgow School of Art from 1899 to 1901 before moving to London. He attended the Kennington School of Art, and then the Royal Academy Schools in 1904-5. He completed his studies in Paris and Rome on a travelling scholarship, returning to London afterwards to set up practice as a sculptor. For his native area, he designed the Mungo Park and Flodden memorials at Selkirk, and the war memorials at Canonbie, Earlston, Galashiels and Selkirk, in addition to this one at Minto. Unlike the large group war memorials of Sir William Goscombe John, under whom Clapperton had studied while at the Royal Academy, Clapperton's works tend to be individual or equestrian figures; but they are imbued with a similar sense of narrative and expression to those of his master. He was also responsible for a number of distinguished memorials to individuals, as well as figures such as the monument of Robert the Bruce on the front of Edinburgh Castle. His work outside Scotland includes a massive figurative frieze on Liberty's department store in London, and public works in New Zealand, Canada and California.
The statue is 9ft tall. The face of the soldier is based on that of Desmond Elliot, son of the Earl of Minto, who was killed in the Battle of the Somme. It faced Minto House when originally constructed, but was turned around after the Countess stated that she would prefer it to be guarding the house rather than attacking it.
The uppermost of the bronze plaques is the original one, and is moulded in such a way that the boulders appear to be making indentations in it from behind. It reads:
"THE FLOWERS OF THE FOREST ARE A'WEDE AWAY"
TO THE GLORIOUS MEMORY OF THE MEN OF MINTO PARISH WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR COUNTRY IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918
"OUT OF DARKNESS THROUGH FIRE INTO LIGHT"
... followed by a list of the seven local men killed during that war, and concluding:
"REJOICE WE HAVE CONQUERED"
A lower plaque commemorates those who have died in active service since 1945.
The stone of the base came from Minto Crag.