William Lever was a passionate believer that art and good design had a positive influence on everyday life. He admired both John Ruskin (1819-1900) and William Morris (1834-1896), who promoted these ideas in the second half of the 1800s. As part of Lever’s vision for the place and its residents, Lever Brothers and later caretakers filled Port Sunlight village with outdoor sculpture, monuments and landscape features.
While sculptures and monuments contribute to the heritage character and significance of the village, they are not well represented in the architectural archives. This short essay gives an overview of the key monuments and further information about whether plans are part of the Drawn Together collection and can be accessed.
Lever noted: “Art and the beautiful unconsciously create an atmosphere in which happiness and the virtues grow and flourish…”
WH Lever, Art and Beauty and the City, three addresses by Sir William H Lever, 1915 (unpublished), p.6.
Lever Brothers and later Unilever commissioned leading designers to create outdoor sculptures and monuments for the village. William Goscombe John (1860-1952) created the war memorial, “Defence of the Realm”, for the heart of the village. The design of the Leverhulme Memorial, by James Lomax-Simpson and William Reid Dick (1879-1961), continued this tradition. Also, the addition of the sculptural group, “Sea Piece”, in the boating pond in The Diamond by Charles Wheeler (1892-1974).
There are monuments and major landscape features throughout Port Sunlight village. As well as the major public works of art described above, there are also smaller listed monuments. Lever commissioned a silver wedding anniversary fountain for his parents. Also, a sun dial commemorating the Relief of the Mafeking, a battle in the Boer War.
Other significant landscape design features include the Jubilee Garden, sunken garden and boating pond and Dell bridge.
Availability of plans
While these features contribute to the heritage character and significance of the village, they are not well represented in the architectural archives. The Drawn Together project partners hold:
- limited drawings of the war memorial and Dell bridge
- significant collections for the Jubilee Garden, sunken garden and boating pond and Leverhulme memorial
The smaller monuments and features are not represented in the drawings.
The work of James Lomax-Simpson, responsible for the sunken garden and boating pond, war memorial, Leverhulme memorial, and Jubilee Garden is still under copyright. Although you will not find digital images of his work on this website, you can search for his drawings in the Drawn Together catalogue, click here to download. Each reference will include the name of the relevant archive, reference number and date (if known) for the work.
Please email the relevant archive to request a copy, make sure you include collection references. Enquiries are answered subject to the archive’s availability.
Note that you can only use the Drawn Together digital images on this website or in the catalogue for research purposes.