Saturday, 28 February 2015

Elsie March 1884-1974 Goddendene Locksbottom

I volunteer at Bromley Archives and have the opportunity to greet Winston Churchill each morning!
This bust of Churchill is a rather neglected feature of the archive search room.
It is the work of the remarkable Elsie March who was the seventh child of nine,eight of whom were artists or sculptors.British Pathe  1924 has a silent film depicting "Sister and Seven brothers" at work in the extensive three studios on the seven acre grounds of 17 room Goddendene in Locksbottom which the family occupied from 1901. The studios included an iron foundry and here was cast the National War Memorial of Canada sculptures which were exhibited in Hyde Park in London after their casting in 1932. They had to be stored in the studios at Goddendene as they could not be shipped to Canada until the ground was prepared and the stone work of the monument completed. The family were involved in the installation which was completed by October 1938.
Elsie was the last of the family to die and her ashes were added to the family burials at Saint Giles Farnborough. The burial plot is marked by a bronze angel the 1922 work of her brother Sydney March.
A full biography of Elsie March Wikipedia contains further information about Goddendene.
The site of Goddendene is now a supermarket with scant reference to the family or history of the site Supermarket site
The bust of Churchill has been within The Library Bromley which opened in the 1970's but few people are aware of or notice him. He currently sits above a safe since an earlier home was needed for display space. Strangely the bust never entered Bromley Museum's collection at Orpington Priory now threatened with closure due to cuts by central government which are impacting all local government services. The proposed abolition of the Museum service and redundancy of staff has been deferred until later this year and this would lead to some museum displays being moved to The Library. For now Churchill remains in place on the second floor on a firm foundation.