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People, Places and IdentitiesThemes in British Social and Cultural History, 1700s-1980s$
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Alan Kidd and Melanie Tebbutt

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780719090356

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719090356.001.0001

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Memorial mania: remembering and forgetting Sir Robert Peel

Memorial mania: remembering and forgetting Sir Robert Peel

(p.63) 3 Memorial mania: remembering and forgetting Sir Robert Peel
People, Places and Identities

Terry Wyke

Manchester University Press

The transformations which took place in the urban environment during the Victorian period gave the public space of towns and cities new meanings, and Terry Wyke’s essay on Sir Robert Peel, examines how political lives and reputations were shaped by the commemorative culture of public portrait statues and busts. Peel's death in 1850 and his subsequent memorializatiom marked the start of a significant trend in public life, expressed in the commissioning of outdoor portrait statues to celebrate prominent local and national figures. Peel's image, 'forged' by the contemporary press, was absorbed by a broader Liberal bourgeois narrative in cities like Manchester, as a public statement of the reputation and achievements of the Anti-Corn Law League, with which Peel was so strongly associated. Such portraiture, replete with political symbolism, played an important part in defining a new civic landscape in the Victorian period, a material narrative of political life that had been largely forgotten by the second half of the twentieth century, although it remains a rich source of evidence deserving of greater attention.

Keywords:   Public space, Civic identity, Sir Robert Peel, Public statuary

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