Monument to Grace Darling about 35m west of Church of St Aidan


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Radcliffe Road, Bamburgh, NE69 7AB


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Statutory Address:
Radcliffe Road, Bamburgh, NE69 7AB

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Monument to Grace Darling, 1844 to designs of Anthony Salvin with an effigy by Charles Raymond Smith, restored in 1885 by F R Wilson, and in 1894 by Hick & Charlwood.

Reasons for Designation

The Monument to Grace Darling, 1844 to designs of Anthony Salvin with an effigy by Charles Raymond Smith, restored in 1885 by F R Wilson and in 1894 by Hick and Charlwood, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: Architectural interest:

* a striking monument in the form of a canopied tomb incorporating a life-sized carved effigy of the heroine Grace Darling; * it comprises good -quality materials and craftsmanship, seen for example in the detailing of the carved seaweed forms of the base and intricate detailing of the canopy; * a composite and evolved monument incorporating the work of national and regional artists and architects including the nationally renowned Anthony Salvin.

Historic interest:

* it commemorates Grace Darling, a celebrated Victorian heroine who in September 1838 courageously participated in the rescue of survivors from the wreck of the Forfarshire.

Group value:

* it benefits from a spatial group value with several listed buildings including the Church of St Aidan, its wall and gateway and a pair of grave monuments.


Grace Horsley Darling (1815-1842) became a national heroine following the wreck of the steamship Forfarshire on the Farne Islands during a storm on 7 September 1838. Grace was at home at Longstone Lighthouse with her parents Thomasin and William, the latter, the keeper of the lighthouse. By first light the family could see survivors on Big Harcar Rock clinging to what remained of the wreck. Given the weather conditions, rescue could not be undertaken from the mainland, and local fishermen considered an attempt too perilous. Grace and her father set out in their coble through stormy seas and rescued five survivors; her father returned with two of the survivors to rescue another four people, while Grace and her mother looked after the earlier survivors at the lighthouse. It was two days before they could be removed to the mainland.

Grace Darling's act of bravery became internationally known, making front page news and even reaching Queen Victoria. Such a rescue against all the odds caught the imagination of the public, particularly because Grace had single-handedly kept the coble in position as her father assisted the survivors into the little vessel, and because, at any moment, the little coble could have suffered the same fate of the much larger ship. Both Grace and her father were awarded medals and financial awards for their bravery and were inundated with letters. Grace died of tuberculosis four years later, on 20 October 1842, which increased national fervour and provided an occasion for the new Poet Laureate, William Wordsworth, to write an appropriate tribute. Her funeral was a grand occasion, with hundreds of people crowding the little village of Bamburgh to say goodbye.

It was first proposed that Grace Darling should be commemorated by the restoration of the chapel of St Cuthbert on Great Farne Island. Queen Victoria and others sent money and by 1848 the restoration of the chapel with a stone monument was complete. Neither this nor the suggestion in The Gateshead Observer that a lighthouse should be erected, were favoured by the Darling family who preferred a more conventional monument for Grace. It was therefore decided to build a plain tomb in St Aidan's Churchyard. The monument, designed by the prolific and highly regarded architect Anthony Salvin, was completed in 1844, and the figure for it carved by the well-known Charles Raymond Smith of London. By 1885 the tomb was repaired by Fredrick R Wilson, and a new effigy was carved by C R Smith; the original figure was removed to the nave of St Aidan's Church. In about 1893 or 1894 the monument was damaged in a gale and was restored again in 1895 with a canopy to designs of Hicks and Charlwood.


Monument to Grace Darling, 1844 to designs of Anthony Salvin with an effigy by Charles Raymond Smith, restored in 1885 by F R Wilson, and in 1894 by Hick & Charlwood.

MATERIALS: Ashlar and bronze, with cast-iron railings; Portland stone effigy.

DESCRIPTION: a canopied tomb in the Decorated Gothic style. A rectangular base bears a life-size, carved, recumbent effigy of the heroine Grace Darling holding a stone oar by her side. The figure lies upon a mattress with carved seaweed forms beneath it. The canopy is carried upon eight bronze spiral colonettes with open leafy capitals, from which triple trefoiled pointed arches with ornate leafy spandrels spring. There is bronze cresting with quatrefoils. The monument is surrounded by cast-iron railings with spear-head finials.

An inscription in incised Roman letters on the base of the east face reads: W[...] Sc[...] 1838; on the base of the west face reads: C.R.SMITH; incised in Gothic letters on the north face reads: Died - 20 October 1842-aged 26 years; incised in Gothic letters on the south face: G[…] D[…] Born 24th Novr 1815. Raised Roman letters on a bronze plaque on the base of the south face read: GRACE HORSLEY DARLING /BORN – NOV. 24TH 1815 / DIED – OCT 1841 / AGED 26 YEARS.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Northumberland, (1992), 154
Usherwood, P, Beach, J, Morris, C, Public Sculpture of North-East England, (2000), 12-13
Dictionary of Scottish Architects: entry for F R Wilson, accessed 06-08-2021 from
Dictionary of Scottish Architects: entry for Hicks and Charlwood, accessed 06-08-2021 from
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: entry for Anthony Salvin by Richard Holder, 2004, accessed 06-08-2021 from
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: entry for Grace Horsley Darling by H C G Matthew, 2004, accessed 06-07-2021 from
RNLI website time line: account of the rescue, accessed 06-08-2021 from
Wreck and Rescue: Grace Darling, A Victorian Heroine, accessed 06-08-2021 from


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

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Date: 05 May 2002
Reference: IOE01/06990/21
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Kenneth Robinson. Source Historic England Archive
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