Work is under way to prepare a new site for the Cardale Monument – a drinking trough – which currently occupies a squashed space half on the verge and half on the car park at the Victoria Pleasure Ground, Uckfield.
Uckfield Town Council staff were digging yesterday so that a concrete plinth can be laid on which the monument will sit.
The monument will be taken apart and then reassembled, with new pieces, created by Derek Tourle Memorial Masons, added so that it looks more as it did when first built.
The trough was unveiled in 1894 to commemorate the life of the Rev Edward Thomas Cardale (1810-1893) who was the first Rector of Uckfield when the parish church became a church in its own right in 1839, rather than being a chapel-of-ease to the church at Buxted.
An inscription on the monument reads:
Erected by inhabitants of Uckfield in memory of Rev E.T. Cardale
Late Rector of the Parish
Uckfield and District Preservation Society researched the history, shared here, for the town council in support of moving and restoring the monument. The society also provided pictures showing what it looked like in its heyday.
The council had hoped to find a town centre site for the drinking trough but that proved impossible.
Now it is to be on the left as you to through the gate onto the Victoria Pleasure Ground.
When first built the memorial had an iron finial (lamp) on top but that was replaced later with a more robust lamp.
The preservation society said:
The mid to late 1800s was a period of great expansion in Uckfield which was mainly brought about with the coming of the railway in 1848.
The photograph (above) shows the original “unveiling” of the Drinking Trough in 1894 to commemorate the life of the Rev Edward Thomas Cardale (1810-1893).
The Rev Cardale was the first Rector of Uckfield when the parish church became a church in its own right in 1839, rather than being a chapel-of-ease to the church at Buxted.
All the great and the good are in the picture, including General George Calvert Clerk (in the bath chair), who was in charge of the Royal Scots Greys at the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War.
He lived in a large house along Church Street, now called Church House.
The Battle of Balaclava was where the famous Charge of the Light Brigade happened under the command of the 3rd Earl of Lucan.
Interestingly, his descendent the mysterious disappearing 7th Earl of Lucan was last seen in Grants Hill House in Church Street after his nanny was found murdered in their London flat.
The Trough was originally located near to Bridge Cottage, to the right of the old Holly Bush cafe building where the Boots shop now stands.
It was moved to the Victoria Pleasure Ground when Boots and the link road were created.
Originally positioned in a garden, it has now become surrounded by cars as its sits, rather abandoned, on the edge of the car park.
The Trough is in relatively good condition and a good clean will restore it to its former glory.
It would need to be rebuilt to its original height – during various moves both the supporting stones for the trough, the dogs under the drinking trough and the superb wrought iron finial that topped the monument were lost.
Photographs exist of the monument so stonemasons and a blacksmith could recreate the missing parts.
When an appeal was made last year for information about the memorial a ‘slave remuneration record’ was unearthed for the Rev Edward Thomas Cardale.
Madeleine Judge commented at the time: “This is probably going to be unpopular but I think it (the memorial) should be left where it is. Looking up the pastor mentioned I was not impressed to see he was the last person to give up slaves and had to be paid to do that. Not something to be celebrated. The money could be better spent on a new monument / memorial / statue that the people of Uckfield could design / vote on to celebrate someone or something more current. Just a thought.”
Mick Harker, chairman of the preservation society, responded when asked by Uckfield News saying:
“I confess this is the first I have heard about this detail of his life however, I think there needs to be some context here before judgements are made about people.
“Whatever our views about slavery are now, the act banning slavery (but not slavery itself) was not passed until 1807 and it was not until 1833 that the slavery abolition act finally came into effect. This act compensated owners of slaves for their loss of their ‘business assets’; i.e. the slaves generally in the far off colonies of the British Empire.
“Before this time slavery in the colonies was a completely accepted way of life and one where the wealth was generated to build many of the large country estates which we are all happy to visit as National Trust Members!
“Looking at the link it appears that Edward Cardale was compensated for the loss of one slave in Antigua on the Mackinnon’s Estate in 1836 who probably came to him through an inheritance.
“Edward was born in 1810 and, when the slavery abolition act came into effect he was a young man of 23 , possibly of some means who may only have come into his inheritance when he was 21, two years earlier. (In some cases inheritances didn’t come until later so , without knowing the details he may not have even been in a position to make any decision about the matter!)
“As a wealthy person at a time when slavery was a completely accepted way of life, would he have been aware of this ‘asset’ or even comprehended what we now think of an immoral situation? I don’t believe it is up to us to make such retrospective judgements.
“When the Cardale monument was erected in 1894 slavery as a trade had long since expired. The people of Uckfield wanted to celebrate the life of a well-respected vicar by providing a very useful piece of street furniture; a drinking fountain for all.
“The monument sat in its central position until the Boots building was built in the mid 1980’s. With the refreshing of the High Street it is entirely appropriate (in my opinion) to bring the monument back to a site near to the original where, perhaps set out as a colorful planter, it can form a visible record of part of Uckfield’s local history.”