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St Paul's.JPG
Source: Facebook/St. Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's.JPG
Source: Facebook/St. Paul's Cathedral
UK News

St Paul's Cathedral may axe monument of Battle of Waterloo commander due to 'offensive' history

by Will Maule

As part of its sweeping review into statues of historical figures with dubious pasts, St Paul's Cathedral is now contemplating the removal of a monument to the most senior British army officer to die at the Battle of Waterloo.

Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Picton was known for his brutal governorship of Trinidad in the late 1700s, during which time he ordered the torture of a 14-year-old girl - he was also thought to have profited tremendously from his involvement in the slave trade. The removal of the monument, which depicts Picton being flanked by angels and a lion, is part of an extensive £800k probe into the presence of "offensive" statues. 

The British army officer's potential removal from St Paul's comes after a statue of him was taken down at Cardiff City Hall's 'Heroes of Wales' gallery earlier this year. Council leaders said that his "abhorrent" behaviour as Governor of Trinidad meant he was "not deserving of a place in the Heroes of Wales collection". 

At the time, Cardiff's first black mayor, Dan De'Ath, said that he was "delighted" by the decision to remove the statue:

"I think the way Cardiff has gone about the whole thing has been the right way. We've used democratic means to take it down. Most people were incredibly supportive. They recognise the significance of the statue and what an affront it is to black people. Black lives do matter.

"It's therefore not appropriate to have such a person as Picton, who caused so much suffering and death and misery during his time as Governor of Trinidad, commemorated and celebrated.

"Statues are not just about history. They are about celebrating the lives of the people they depict, and representing a certain set of values. These aren't the values, he's not the person, and these aren't the deeds we want to celebrate and recognise in Cardiff today." 

While he was revered as a courageous soldier, Picton was also known for having a vicious temper; The Duke of Wellington once called him "a rough foul-mouthed devil as ever lived".

In July, a portrait of Picton that hangs in Windsor Castle had its accompanying description amended to include his links to the colonial slave trade. 

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