Monument to Canon Thomas Major Lester. Sir George Frampton, R.A., P.R.B.S. (1860-1928). 1907. Bronze on a sandstone pedestal. St John's Gardens. Liverpool. [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Born in Fulham, south London, and educated at Christ's College Cambridge, Thomas Major Lester (1829-1903) became a curate in Liverpool in 1853. Apart from a stint in Manchester, he spent the rest of his life in the city, becoming Vicar of St Mary's Kirkdale, and later an honorary Canon of the city. He is widely remembered for the Kirkdale Child Charities, through which he operated the Major Street Ragged Schools and later a Girls' Home in Walton Road, followed by school facilities there. As it says on the right side of the pedestal, he also founded the Stanley Hospital. Over 10,000 children benefited from his work ("Canon Thomas Major Lester"). A prominent educationist, amongst his many offices were those of Chairman of the Liverpool Self-Help Emigration Society, and President of the Liverpool Ruskin Society. He is buried at Anfield Cemetery, Liverpool.
Frampton, who advised on the initial design of St John's Gardens, has three works in them. This one, unveiled in 1907 (see Cavanagh 182), comprises the 10' high figure of a rather bulky Canon Lester, carrying a small girl in his arms. The idea, said Frampton, was "to show the late Canon in the actual performance of the work with which he had been identified" (qtd. in Cavanagh 183): rescuing destitute children. On the front of the 12' high pedestal is a bronze plaque bearing the subject's name and dates; beneath that, incised in the stone, is the Canon's motto: "Give the child a fair chance." On the left side of the pedestal is a tribute to his work on children's behalf, praising him as a pioneer and tireless worker in their cause, providing "homes and schools where destitute children could be fed, clothed, educated and started in life." On the right side is further information about his achievements. The contrast between the large bear-like man in his clerical robes and voluminous cloak, and the small scrap of a barefoot child, is touching. It is a suitable memorial to one who soon realised that ministering to the spiritual needs of the poor was not enough.
Photograph, caption, and commentary by Jacqueline Banerjee, 2009. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photograher and (2) link your document to this URL.]
"Canon Thomas Major Lester." Viewed 8 February 2009 (a useful account” by a former pupil and teacher of Major Lester School, Liverpool).
Cavanagh, Terry. Public Sculpture of Liverpool. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1997.
Created 8 February 2009
Last modified 31 January 2020