Statue of Rudyard Kipling unveiled in Burwash

The statue of Rudyard Kipling in Burwash. Photograph: Ann Chown
The statue of Rudyard Kipling in Burwash. Photograph: Ann Chown

A bronze statue of Rudyard Kipling has been unveiled in Burwash.

The life-size figure on the High Street shows the writer, who lived in the village, sitting on a bench also cast in bronze.

Sculptor Victoria Atkinson with the Rudyard Kipling figure. Photograph: Tom Reynolds

Sculptor Victoria Atkinson with the Rudyard Kipling figure. Photograph: Tom Reynolds

Burwash Parish Council commissioned the piece last year and it has been created by Burwash-based sculptor Victoria Atkinson.

It was officially unveiled on Friday (February 15) by chairman of The Kipling Society Mike Kipling.

Vice-chair of the parish council councillor Steve Moore is credited as the 'driving force' behind the project, which was largely funded through public donation.

In a statement, he said its aim is to encourage footfall from Bateman's – the 17th century house in Burwash where Kipling lived from 1902 until he died in 1936 – into the village.

Cllr Steve Moore and Victoria Atkinson with the statue. Photograph: Ann Chown

Cllr Steve Moore and Victoria Atkinson with the statue. Photograph: Ann Chown

He said: "We live in a picturesque village with a great community but, like many villages, with diminishing businesses.

"Our aim is to encourage some of the over 120,000 people who visit Bateman’s to come in to the village and support local businesses.

"Sitting next to Kipling on the bench is a great selfie opportunity.

"People might then walk on to the war memorial and read the inscription which Kipling composed."

Sculptor Victoria, who has lived in the village for nearly 20 years and grew up around the area, says she was ‘over the moon’ when she was asked to sculpt Kipling and that it was ‘really, really exciting’.

She said: “It was a wonderful opportunity to be a part of.”

To create the figure, Victoria researched Kipling using archives at Bateman's and the National Portrait Gallery, with the Kipling Society providing details such as Kipling's height and hat and shoe size.

She said: “It’s really changed my outlook on Kipling. He was an interesting man."

She started sculpting the figure in May last year using her neighbour, who was wearing a thick suit, as a model to get the shape and pose of Kipling right.

It was cast in bronze in Athens.

Chair of Burwash Parish Council Betty McBride said that the statue is drawing attention, with people stopping to look at it and that people do take a selfies with it.

She said: "It's a welcome addition to the high street."

Eight portrait heads of Kipling forged in bronze have also been created to sell to the public, one of which has already been bought. After costs, profits will be shared between Victoria and the parish council to help fund further community projects.