It is by the Welsh-born sculptor Ivor Roberts-Jones RA (1913-1996) who also sculpted the statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square as well as that of Field Marshall Viscount Slim in Parliament Street in London.
Augustus John moved to Fryern Court in Fordingbridge in 1927. John was known for his brilliant figure drawings and had become the leading society portrait artist of the time. John lived a notoriously bohemian lifestyle and had numerous affairs in his lifetime. He claimed he would pat the head of every child he met as he walked down the Kings Road in Chelsea just in case they were one of his. He was a regular in Fordingbridge pubs when he lived at Fryern Court drinking copious amounts of beer and playing shove ha’penny. John died in 1961 at the age of 83 and Dorelia, who had born him 2 sons and 2 daughters, lived on at Fryern Court until she died in 1969.
After Augustus John’s death in 1961 a group sculpture was proposed to include a seated John next to his partner Dorelia. This plan was abandoned in favour of a single figure, probably on cost grounds. The final striding figure was unveiled by Lord Mountbatten in 1967. It was originally placed in a rather obscure position away from the town centre but was moved to a more prominent place near the bridge in 1999.
Philippa Duckworth, Manager of Fordingbridge Museum said: “We are delighted that the statue has been given protected status and is in the exalted company of such prestigious other sculptures. The statue is larger than life and full of energy and vitality reflecting John’s personality. We have an interesting exhibition on Augustus John in the museum and this was extended last year to include a whole new section about the statue. We hope that the announcement will inspire people to come and look at the exhibition when the museum reopens at Easter so that they can look on the statue with a renewed insight.”