Start of restoration work on William III Statue in Petersfield

Preparations for the restoration of the William III statue, which stands in The Square in Petersfield, will start on Monday 10 July 2023 when scaffolding will be erected to allow specialist contractors to remove the statue for repair

Jul 4 2023

Image of the statue of William III on his horse, set on a stone plinth in Petersfield Town Square
While the statue is structurally sound overall, the right arm has become detached and there is a crack across the right ankle. 
 
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Rob Humby, said: “It is important that we take care of Hampshire’s historical monuments to preserve our sense of place for generations to come. The lead statue of William III in Petersfield is a popular local landmark. Naturally, with centuries old structures there will be some damage over time due to environmental conditions such as the seasonal weather and, in more modern times, traffic emissions. I am pleased that the restoration work is now about to get underway.”
 
Leading the restoration work on the Grade 1 listed William III Equestrian Statue, are National Trust approved, Rupert Harris Conservation. The timescale for the work is as follows but please note that this may be subject to change:
 
10 July:                                        Scaffolding erected 
13 and 14 July:                            Removal of statue 
17 July:                                        Scaffold removed. Heras fencing to be installed around the empty plinth
17 July to 16 September:             Restoration work undertaken (off-site)
18 September:                              Scaffolding erected
21 and 22 September:                Statue reinstated on plinth
28 September:                            Scaffold dismantled and Heras fencing removed
 
Only the ‘human’ element of the statue is being taken away for repair. The horse section will remain in place on the plinth.
  
History of the statue
 The lead statue of William of Orange, in the costume of a Roman Senator, was commissioned by Sir William Jolliffe in 1750 and erected after his death in 1757 at Petersfield House, and later moved to the Square in Petersfield. 
 
Restoration history
 18th and 19th Centuries - There are plausible accounts that the original statue, like its counterpart in Hull, was originally leaf gilded but that, following the statue being tarred and feathered during protests against Jolliffe’s election campaign, the gilding was stripped. There are no reliable accounts of any restoration work being undertaken until the 20th century. 
 
20th Century - It is reported that the statue has been restored several times since being purchased by the Urban District Council in 1911. However, there are very scarce records of the work undertaken with the exception of a 1918 newspaper report describing restorations undertaken by the Singer and Sons’ foundry in Frome where the following work is said to have been undertaken:
 
• Legs remodelled and cast 
• A new iron armature fitted in the legs and body
• Remade harness
• New baton cast 
• Laurel wreath and accoutrements re-gilded