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‘Flawed in some ways’: Cathedral responds to vandal attack on Lord Nelson statue

PUBLISHED: 06:30 07 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:13 07 July 2020

The Nelson statue in The Close in Norwich Cathedral has been sprayed on with black graffiti. Picture: Ruth Lawes

The Nelson statue in The Close in Norwich Cathedral has been sprayed on with black graffiti. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Archant

Norwich Cathedral has spoken of its “regret” at the vandal attack on the Lord Nelson statue in its grounds.

Nanette Youssef, Green Party councillor. Pic: Green Party.Nanette Youssef, Green Party councillor. Pic: Green Party.

Black graffiti was sprayed over the front and back of the statue in The Close overnight on Saturday.

The damage was reported to the police and Norwich City Council, and the dean and chapter of Norwich Cathedral said it was “committed to reviewing the place of historical figures memorialised”.

A statement said: “The dean and chapter regret the damage done to the statue of Admiral Lord Nelson on Saturday night. The damage has been reported to the police and to Norwich City Council, which owns and maintains the statue.

“As previously stated, Admiral Lord Nelson, although a national hero, was also like all of us flawed in some ways.

Black graffiti has been sprayed onto the Nelson statue at Norwich Cathedral. Picture: Ruth LawesBlack graffiti has been sprayed onto the Nelson statue at Norwich Cathedral. Picture: Ruth Lawes

“The Dean and Chapter are committed to reviewing the place of historical figures memorialised in the Cathedral and in our grounds and to hosting conversations about what we have to learn from past wrongs.

“Recognising that we as human beings are all created in the image of God and of equal value, we are absolutely committed to making sure that all people in our society are treated with dignity and respect. We need to pay attention to the wrongs of the past and we need to work together to put right the many wrongs in our world today.”

Nannette Youssef, Green Party councillor and spokesperson for equality and diversity, said the motivations behind the graffiti were “unclear” and therefore did not condone it.

She called for the vandal to come forward.

The very reverend Jane Hedges, Dean of Norwich. Photograph: Norwich Cathedral/Bill SmithThe very reverend Jane Hedges, Dean of Norwich. Photograph: Norwich Cathedral/Bill Smith

Ms Youssef said: “Nelson is widely celebrated as one of Norfolk’s most prominent figures and the motivations for vandalising his statue are not clear. I therefore do not condone this graffiti and hope that whoever did it will come forward.

“We cannot ignore the context that recently the Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted the urgent need for greater awareness of the legacy of slavery in Britain, including through removing the statue of a slave-trader in Bristol.

“Green Party councillors fully support the Black Lives Matter movement and I am bringing a motion to council this month that looks to address issues of systemic discrimination in the context of Black Lives Matter, which I am hopeful will receive universal support in the chamber.”

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Chris Brett, vice chairman of The Nelson Society, said it was “extremely disappointing the statute had been defaced”.

He added: “Nelson gloried in being a Norfolk man and is one of the country’s foremost heroes. The Nelson Society would be happy to discuss Nelson’s significant role in the country’s history with those who saw fit to deface the statue.”

A spokesman for the city council said: “We’ve asked our contractor to assess the damage to this Grade II listed statue so we can see what options are available to us to inform our next steps. We will be working closely with Norwich Cathedral on what happens next.”


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