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William Pirie centre stage at Piries Place Jubilee Celebrations

Visit Horsham > News > William Pirie centre stage at Piries Place Jubilee Celebrations

Proud children from Horsham and the surrounding area excitedly showed off their special 70th Platinum Jubilee carriage, created for the famous William Pirie statue, this week. The design, which took weeks to paint by local children of all ages and abilities, created a stunningly colourful and cheerful design and put a smile on the face of every passer-by. 

The statue of Mr Pirie and his donkey has stood proudly at the heart of Piries Place since 1993 and was created by sculptor Lorne McKean. During Piries Place renovations, William Pirie and his donkey was securely stored off site, returning to the town when Piries Place opened in 2019 after a £35million development program.

Piries Place tenants hosted a series of Jubilee celebration events for guests to enjoy, the highlight being the unveil of the special Jubilee themed carriage for Mr Pirie and his donkey. Art school art-K Horsham, inspired children to create the unique piece, positioned at the heart of the Piries Place Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Local children transformed Mr Pirie’s Cart into a carriage fit for queens and kings by creating artwork in their weekly art classes at art-K Horsham, an art studio for children also based in Piries Place. Art teachers Laura Etherington and Toby Britton-Watts designed the Jubilee-themed activity to allow children of all ages and abilities to show their creative flair. Children from the art-K Horsham classes were invited to dress like queens and kings to celebrate its unveiling and, as they sat in the carriage, passers-by stopped to admire the children’s hard work.

The celebratory story started when Councillor Ruth Fletcher suggested a replacement bronze plaque that had been lost from William Pirie’s statue. Plans were made to reinstate the plaque at the end of June, along with a step to replace one which was damaged during renovation work and, as the statue is so well-loved by locals, officials decided William Pirie and his donkey had to be the star of the towns Jubilee celebrations. The children’s art project was agreed as a result.  

Malcolm Willis of the Horsham Society was able to supply the historical details to ensure that the wording on the new plaque will match the original, and those words describe why William Pirie is so highly regarded in Horsham:
This sculpture by Lorne McKean is for the enjoyment of the users of Pirie’s Place. It depicts William Pirie, who was Headmaster of Collyers from 1822-1868, during which time he became a familiar figure travelling around Horsham with his donkey & cart. He bought property in Horsham and built 15 cottages on this site naming it Pirie’s Place, from which this development takes its name.

Councillor Christian Mitchell Cabinet Member for Horsham Town said: "The children have done Mr Pirie and his donkey proud and I'm very much looking forward to the plaque unveiling and re-dedication to this beautiful piece of work."

Councillor Ruth Fletcher continued, "Thank you to all the local children whose artistic talents have given Mr Pirie and his donkey a splendid Platinum Jubilee carriage. It is wonderful to see that Lorne McKean's sculpture is continuing to inspire generations of Horsham's children. Thank you to the Pirie’s Place team for arranging the new plaque for this much-loved statue. I look forward to it being installed later this month, returning Mr Pirie to his former glory.”

Laura Etherington, art leader and studio manager at art-K Horsham added, "We're thrilled to be part of Mr Pirie’s latest transformation. Our students at art-K Horsham have loved the challenge of creating Jubilee-themed artwork in their classes, bringing their own ideas and personality to each design - we're so proud of what they've come up with. It's fantastic seeing all the artwork come together on this collaborative installation - as well as celebrating the Jubilee and an iconic Horsham figure, we hope it inspires everyone in the community to explore their own creativity."

To further celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, tenants of Piries Place are running a variety of special offers, activities, and events to enjoy during half term week. For more information on the Queen’s 70th Jubilee Celebrations at Piries Place click here

Article Tags: #piriesplace

By Gavin Hewins. | June 1, 2022, 9 p.m.

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