Earlier this Summer, I received an exciting invitation to attend a ‘pop-up’ exhibition of preparatory works for the Romsey War Horse Memorial Project by award-winning sculptor, Amy Goodman. The exhibition was located at Ranvilles Farm, near Romsey, Hampshire, now a private residence but during World War One was situated close to the Veterinary Hospital of The Romsey Remount Depot. Some of the stabling still exists today, including an original window.
In 1915, a Remount Camp was opened on the summit of Pauncefoot Hill close to Ranvilles Farm. The Camp had reading rooms, a library, a canteen, a YMCA and a hospital. According to local historian, Phoebe Merrick:
Before it closed in 1919, 120,000 horses passed through the Romsey Depot. At any one time there were at least 2,100 men caring for up to 5,000 horses on this hilltop a mile outside Romsey. The Romsey Camp, which covered over fifty acres, consisted of a Headquarters area, a Veterinary Hospital, and ten Squadrons, each of which cared for horses and mules as needed. When trained, the horses were shipped from Southampton to France.
(The Romsey War Horse Memorial Project, leaflet written by Phoebe Merrick, 2014)
To commemorate the men and animals of the Romsey Remount Depot, a life-sized statue has been commissioned. Amy Goodman, now Artist in residence at Winchester University, designed the Memorial featuring a horse and trooper, which will be unveiled in Romsey War Memorial Park, April 2015. This date will be the centenary of when the Romsey Remount Depot opened.
At the time of writing this article, the clay model had been completed and encased in a polyurethane mould. It is now in Newbury being prepared to be cast in bronze-resin by Ryman & Leader Sculpture Casting. The total cost of the statue will be £55,000 and a further £20,000 is needed for the plinth and setting. Thanks to a sterling fundraising effort by local people, £40,000 has been raised to-date.
Amy Goodman has also created nine bronze and fifteen bronze-resin copies of the sculpture. The sale of this limited edition maquette will provide much-needed funds for The War Horse Memorial Project, approximately a third of the total sales will go directly into the War Horse Memorial fund. On Saturday 13th September, at the Romsey Show, The War Horse project will be on display, complete with pictures of Romsey Remount Depot and a souvenir booklet about war horses in World War One.
- For more information about the role of horses in World War One, including background about Swaythling, the other local Remount Depot, near to Romsey, please see my earlier article, ‘Front Line Post and War Horses’;
- For further information about Sculptor Amy Goodman, click here;
- For further information about the Romsey War Horse Statue Fund Raising Project, including history of the Romsey Remount Depot, click here;
- At King John’s House (Romsey’s Heritage and Vistor Centre), the exhibition ‘Romsey Remount Camp Reloaded’ continues until the 28th October, click here;
- Renowned watercolour Artist, Rex Trayhorne, RMS (Royal Miniature Society) is also supporting the Romsey War Horse Fund Raising Project. A beautiful greetings card featuring a view from Pauncefoot Hill, Romsey is being sold in support of the project. For Rex Trayhorne’s website, click here.
- ‘Animals in War; WW1 Tribute’, published on You Tube, 8.11.12 by War Archives. ‘Using Pathé’s World War One footage, this tribute film thanks the forgotten army of World War One. Millions of animals gave their lives. They were selected for their variety of natural skills and instincts and they displayed unwavering courage even when exposed to extreme conditions.’