Richard Henry Reeve Memorial


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Kensington Gardens, Kensington Road, Lowestoft, NR33 0HY


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Statutory Address:
Kensington Gardens, Kensington Road, Lowestoft, NR33 0HY

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

East Suffolk (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Memorial to Richard Henry Reeve erected in 1890.

Reasons for Designation

The memorial to Richard Henry Reeve, erected in 1890, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* it is an elegant and well-detailed memorial in the form of a Classical column in the Ionic order, surmounted by a finely cast winged lion which lends it an elegant grandeur.

Historic interest:

* it illustrates the Victorian fascination with the cult of fame and their desire to aggrandise and beautify towns and cities;

* it commemorates the life of a prominent member of the Lowestoft community.


The name Lowestoft is Scandinavian in origin and may be translated as Hloover’s toft – the homestead of Hloover. The town relocated to the cliff-top from an earlier site, about a mile to the south-west, during the period 1300-1350, partly because of increasing maritime activity (especially herring-fishing) and the need it created to be closer to the sea, and partly because of the difficulty of accommodating an expanding population in-situ without building houses on valuable agricultural land. The area chosen for the new site was low-grade coastal heath, used mainly for the rough-grazing of livestock which became a more useful asset to the manorial lord as building-land. The main street is of sinuous alignment, following the natural curves of the cliff. The better-off members of the community lived along the High Street whilst the less affluent largely resided in a gridiron side-street area to the west. Lowestoft was thus a planned late medieval town.

The High Street was lined with burgage plots containing prosperous merchants’ houses for much of the medieval and early modern period, and the cliff-face was made usable by terracing. The cliff-top itself provided an area behind the houses for the storage of household goods and materials; and the first step down was multi-purpose, sometimes planted with fruit trees and used as an amenity area, but also functioning as a place for putting all kinds of household waste. The second and third stages down were mainly taken up with the buildings that serviced fishing and other maritime enterprise: curing-houses, net-stores, stables and the like. Access from the cliff-top to the sea was provided by footways known as scores (three of them widened for use by carts) – a word deriving from the Old Norse ‘skora’, meaning ‘to cut’ or ‘to incise’. These had originally started life as surface-water gullies down the soft face of the cliff – a natural process that lent itself to use as tracks.

The chief trade of Lowestoft and the source of its prosperity remained herring fishing until the C19. Then in 1827 the harbour was created, and in 1832 the navigation continued through to Oulton Broad, giving access to the River Waveney and Norwich. Samuel Morton Peto was brought in to construct the outer harbour, and he ensured the arrival of the railway in 1847 as well as developing the land south of the harbour as a seaside resort. The town was bombarded by the Germans in 1916 and suffered considerable damage from 178 enemy raids in the Second World War. Post-war reconstruction involved new roads being cut through the northern part of the town. In the later years of the C20 the fishing industry has almost completely declined.

The memorial fountain to Richard Henry Reeve was erected in 1890 by his cousin Mary Ethelind Franey. Reeve is listed in Harrod’s Directory of Norfolk (1877) as ‘solicitor; clerk to the justices for Mutford and Lothingland; clerk to the commissioners for income, land, and assessed taxes, clerk to the commissioners of sewers for the hundreds of Blything and Mutford, Lothingland and Wangford, superintendent registrar of the districts of Mutford and Lothingland, office, High Street.’ He purchased the title of Lord of the Manor of Ashby, a tiny village on the Waveney near Beccles. The year after his death the Borough of Lowestoft Council Minutes (8 October 1889) records a letter from Mr C T Turner asking permission for an ornamental fountain for the use of the public to be installed in front of the Royal Hotel, adding that if approved the donor would submit a plan and design. A sub-committee was appointed and their approval of the scheme was recorded on 29 October. The identity of the architect is unknown. The memorial fountain was installed on Royal Plain in a large circular basin but concerns about its safety led to the removal of the basin and its replacement by four smaller ones fixed to the base of the fountain. After the First World War the site was required for the town’s war memorial, and the Reeve memorial was moved, without the fountain basin, to its present site in Kensington Gardens in 1921.


Memorial to Richard Henry Reeve erected in 1890.

MATERIALS: the memorial has a granite base, a plinth and column of Portland stone, and a lion cast in bronze.

PLAN: it is located in Kensington Gardens on the east side of the boating lake.

EXTERIOR: the memorial is in the form of an Ionic column with a square plinth. Around the base of the plinth the following words are inscribed on four brass tablets: IN MEMORY OF/ RICHARD HENRY REEVE/ LORD OF THE/ MANOR OF LOWESTOFT/ WHO DIED OCTOBER/ 1888 THIS FOUNTAIN/ IS ERECTED BY/ MARY ETHELIND FRANEY. The lower third of the column, which is fluted, is surmounted by an Ionic capital. Above this is a small square section of entablature with a dentilled cornice upon which rests a bronze winged lion sejant on a boat. The column is supported by a moulded cruciform plinth which in turn rests upon a two-stepped concrete base.


Books and journals
Bettley, J, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Suffolk: East, (2015)
Butcher, David, Medieval Lowestoft: The Origins and Growth of a Suffolk Coastal Community, (2016)
Butcher, David, Lowestoft, 1550-1750: Development and Change in a Suffolk Coastal Town, (2008)
Lowestoft Archaeological and Local History Society, accessed 4 March 2019 from
Recording Archive for Public Sculpture in Norfolk and Suffolk , accessed 4 March 2019 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

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