14 September 2012

Ebenezer Elliott in Rotherham, Sheffield and Darfield

The poet Ebenezer Elliott was born in Masbrough, Rotherham, now in South Yorkshire. Neville Northey Burnard (1818–1878) sculpted this statue which is in Weston Park, Broomhill, Sheffield. It originally stood in the centre of Sheffield from 1854 to 1874.
An information panel on front of the sculpture gives a brief biography of Elliott, mentioning his campaign against the Corn Laws which increased the price of bread (which he called 'the bread tax'), and of his nicknames: 'The Paupers' Poet' and 'The Corn-Law Rhymer'. He is most remembered for his Corn Law Rhymes (1831).
In 1846, three years before Elliott's death, the Corn Laws were repealed.

It's probably a mark of how well known Elliott was that the base of this structure simply gives his surname, and this was the simple title of John Greenleaf Whittier's poetic tribute to him. The plaque includes part of John Betjeman's poem 'An Edwardian Sunday, Broomhill, Sheffield':
'Your own Ebenezer
Looks down from his height
On back street and ally
And chemical valley
Laid out in the light;
On ugly and pretty
Where industry thrives
In this hill-shadowed city
Of razors and knives'.
 Elliott lived here, 22 Blake Grove Road, Upperthorpe, Sheffield, from 1834 to 1841.

'"Harvest" by Martin Heron 2009

The sculpture situated on Bradgate Roundabout
commemorates the industrialist, philanthropist and poet
Ebenezer Elliott who was born in Rotherham in 1781.
He died 1849 and is buried at Darfield near Barnsley.

A passionate campaigner on behalf of the poor and oppressed
Elliott's indignation against the Corn Laws of 1815–1846
inspired his famous Corn Law Rhymes which made him nationally
and internationally famous after their publication in 1831.
WHEN wilt Thou save the people?
O God of mercy! when?'
I don't know if it's just me, but I find it slightly odd that the plaque – just outside Bradgate Park, Kimberworth, Rotherham, and facing the roundabout – doesn't state the obvious: that the artwork represents ears of corn. The sculpture is at the junction of Wortley Road and Meadow Bank Road, and the traffic junction has now in fact been renamed Rhymer's Roundabout.
Another tribute to Elliott, this time in the centre of Rotherham, is Wetherspoon's The Corn Law Rhymer on the High Street, which was opened in 2009.

A very similar painting to this is attributed to John Birch. 
All Saints Church, Darfield, South Yorkshire.
And Elliott's grave lies in the churchyard.

On the other side of the tombstone:


'Ebenezer Elliott, Corn Law Rhymer: Poems of Sheffield and Environs,', edited by Agnes Lehoczky and Adam Piette, is linked below.

Ebenezer Elliott, Corn Law Rhymer: Poems of Sheffield and Environs


Yorkshire Pudding said...

Elliott has largely been forgotten in English cultural history. Perhaps it is because he was a thorn in the side of the establishment. He deserves much more than a footnote and I applaud the fact that you bothered to blog about him. I will do the same very soon.

Dr Tony Shaw said...

Many thanks for this comment, and I shall keep a look out for your post!