Pope's Urn

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Pope's Urn on Twickenham riverside Pope's Urn, Twickenham.jpg
Pope's Urn on Twickenham riverside

Pope's Urn, on Champion's Wharf [1] at Twickenham riverside in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, is a contemporary piece of public art inspired by the poetry of 18th-century Twickenham resident Alexander Pope, [2] who is buried in the parish church that overlooks the wharf. It consists of a stylised urn on a pedestal, both made in corten steel and standing just over eight-foot (2.5 metres) high, [3] surrounded by wooden benches inscribed with aphorisms written by Pope. It was commissioned to celebrate the 2015 Rugby World Cup, for which Twickenham Stadium was one of the venues, and was opened in a ceremony on 21 September 2015. [4]

Twickenham Suburban area in South West London, England

Twickenham is an affluent suburban town in south-west London, England. It lies on the River Thames and is 10 miles (16 km) west-southwest of Charing Cross, 2 miles (3.2 km) south-east of Hounslow, and 2.6 miles (4.2 km) north-west of Kingston upon Thames. Historically part of Middlesex, it has formed part of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames since 1965.

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames London borough in United Kingdom

The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in south-west London, England, forms part of Outer London and is the only London borough on both sides of the River Thames. It was created in 1965 when three smaller council areas amalgamated under the London Government Act 1963. It is governed by Richmond upon Thames London Borough Council and is divided into nineteen wards.

Public art is art in any media that has been planned and executed with the intention of being staged in the physical public domain, usually outside and accessible to all. Public art is significant within the art world, amongst curators, commissioning bodies and practitioners of public art, to whom it signifies a working practice of site specificity, community involvement and collaboration. Public art may include any art which is exhibited in a public space including publicly accessible buildings, but often it is not that simple. Rather, the relationship between the content and audience, what the art is saying and to whom, is just as important if not more important than its physical location.


Pope's Urn was the initiative of Twickenham resident Graham Henderson as public art consultant for the London-based arts charity Poet in the City. [5] Henderson conceived the project and worked in partnership with Richmond upon Thames Council, [6] and the architectural design practice Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, [7] to design, build and install it. It was unveiled by Lord True, Leader of Richmond Council, in a ceremony which included readings from Pope's works by the actor John Hannah, who is a local resident, [8] and by the actress Dame Harriet Walter. [4]

Graham Henderson (cultural entrepreneur)

Graham Henderson is a cultural entrepreneur based in London. He is best known for developing the arts organisation Poet in the City. In 2014 he launched a second arts organisation, the Rimbaud and Verlaine Foundation, committed to cross-arts commissioning and to championing a new funding model for the arts. Henderson has also been involved in many other arts-related initiatives including the development of a public art consultancy, the creation of an international arts network and a campaign to create a new investment fund for the arts.

Poet in the City organization

Poet in the City brings poetry to life beyond books, digging out classic and contemporary gems and immersing audiences in the worlds of poets through events, commissions and participation.

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios architectural firm in Bath, United Kingdom

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios is a British architectural design firm, established in 1978, with offices in Bath, London, Manchester, Belfast and Edinburgh. The firm is known for its pioneering work in sustainable design and social design agenda.

The sculpture is based on drawings that have survived of an urn designed by Alexander Pope for a friend's garden at Hagley Hall, Worcestershire. [3] The original urn no longer exists.

Hagley Hall Grade I listed historic house museum in Hagley, United Kingdom

Hagley Hall is a Grade I listed 18th-century house in Hagley, Worcestershire, the home of the Lyttelton family. It was the creation of George, 1st Lord Lyttelton (1709–1773), secretary to Frederick, Prince of Wales, poet and man of letters and briefly Chancellor of the Exchequer. Before the death of his father in 1751, he began to landscape the grounds in the new Picturesque style, and between 1754 and 1760 it was he who was responsible for the building of the Neo-Palladian house that survives to this day.

Worcestershire County of England

Worcestershire is a county in the West Midlands of England.

The line For fools rush in where angels fear to tread was first written by Alexander Pope in his 1711 poem An Essay on Criticism. The phrase alludes to inexperienced or rash people attempting things that more experienced people avoid. It has since entered the general English lexicon as an idiom.

<i>An Essay on Criticism</i> poem

An Essay on Criticism is one of the first major poems written by the English writer Alexander Pope (1688–1744). It is the source of the famous quotations "To err is human, to forgive divine", "A little learning is a dang'rous thing", and "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread". It first appeared in 1711 after having been written in 1709, and it is clear from Pope's correspondence that many of the poem's ideas had existed in prose form since at least 1706. Composed in heroic couplets and written in the Horatian mode of satire, it is a verse essay primarily concerned with how writers and critics behave in the new literary commerce of Pope's contemporary age. The poem covers a range of good criticism and advice, and represents many of the chief literary ideals of Pope's age.

See also

Alexander Pope English poet

Alexander Pope is regarded as one of the greatest English poets, and the foremost poet of the early eighteenth century. He is best known for his satirical and discursive poetry—including The Rape of the Lock, The Dunciad, and An Essay on Criticism—as well as for his translation of Homer. After Shakespeare, Pope is the second-most quoted writer in the English language, as per The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, some of his verses having even become popular idioms in common parlance. He is considered a master of the heroic couplet.

Popes villa residence of Alexander Pope at Twickenham

Pope's villa was the residence of Alexander Pope at Twickenham, then a village west of London in Middlesex. He moved there in 1719 and created gardens and an underground grotto. The house and grotto were topics of 18th- and 19th-century poetry and art. In about 1845, a neo-Tudor house known as Pope's Villa was built on approximately the same site; it has been used as a school since the early 20th century. Pope's Grotto, which is listed Grade II* by Historic England, survives and is occasionally open to the public.

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Kew suburban district in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames

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  1. "Champions Wharf Sculpture Park". London Parks and Gardens Trust . Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  2. Flood, Alison (28 September 2015). "Alexander Pope is granted eternal sunshine of a Twickenham memorial". The Guardian . Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  3. 1 2 Grix, Ken (13 September 2015). "Pope's Urn Sculpture". Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios . Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  4. 1 2 "Pope's Urn unveiled on Twickenham Riverside". Richmond upon Thames: This is Our Town. September 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  5. "Public Art". Poet in the City. 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  6. "Parks Improvement Programme – Pope's Urn at Champion's Wharf". London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. 5 August 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  7. "Pope's Urn gets planning permission". Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios. 6 August 2015. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  8. Cowley, Louise (8 August 2015). "John Hannah appointed patron of Richmond's music and drama festival". Richmond and Twickenham Times . Retrieved 25 March 2018.
Historic England Executive non-departmental public body of the British Government, tasked with protecting the historical environment of England

Historic England is an executive non-departmental public body of the British Government sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). It is tasked with protecting the historical environment of England by preserving and listing historic buildings and ancient monuments and by advising central and local government.

The National Heritage List for England (NHLE) is England’s official list of buildings, monuments, parks and gardens, wrecks, battlefields and World Heritage Sites. It is maintained by Historic England and brings together these different designations as a single resource even though they vary in the type of legal protection afforded to each. Conservation areas do not appear on the NHLE since they are designated by the relevant local planning authority.

Coordinates: 51°26′48″N0°19′29″W / 51.446609°N 0.324584°W / 51.446609; -0.324584