Nostalgia by Michael Eagleton

As reported by the Marlow Free Press back in March our famous Frohman Memorial statue in the Causeway (widely known as the “Naked Lady”, but more properly “The Nymph”) needed some T.L.C. after an inappropriate cleaning procedure several years ago.

This was carried out by the same company that handled a complete restoration back in 2009 – Cliveden Conservation.

After several nights swathed in sacking she was uncovered last week, looking shining white once again.

Here are some past memories from my files.

The one top left is a real rarity, and was found just recently by a Marlow Society member, dated 1928, and signed by “Billie”, presumably the photographer.

This is the only picture I have seen showing a chained aluminium cup: the statue was first intended as a drinking fountain.

One cup was stolen shortly after the memorial was unveiled in 1924.

A replacement was fitted (this must be the one in the 1928 picture) but this also disappeared around the same time as other vandalism, resulting in railings at the front being added. No cup is visible in the old press cutting from “The Sphere”, top centre.

You probably know the story that the statue, the work of famous sculptor Leonard Merrifield, is a memorial to the theatrical impresario Charles Frohman (bottom left) who spent much time in Marlow, describing it as his all time favourite place.

He died in the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. Frohman is best known for his stage production of “Peter Pan” which starred the legendary Pauline Chase, also a regular visitor to Marlow.

The rumour used to be that it was her who modelled for the statue, but there are some doubts these days because she was a highly respectable wife and mother by the time the statue was made, although you can compare any possible facial likeness in the two inset pictures.

Our statue is in Portland stone but Merrifield also produced an identical “twin” in marble, and this one can be seen on the stairs of Chelsea Library, in the Kings Road, picture top right.

Our own lady has had a disaster prone life, often having parts of her anatomy painted by vandals, usually at times of the Regatta.

She survived the terrible storm of 1987, but two years later, 1989, another lesser storm brought down an adjoining tree and she lost her head and both feet.

Barrie Lea’s pictures are below, with one he also took showing her with a lapful of snow.

The last picture shows Steve Mellor at work in 2009 when the statue was removed for the complete renovation at Cliveden.

The sculptor, Leonard Merrifield, died in 1943 in a wartime air raid.

Contact Michael on or 01628 486571