Roaming with RAMM – Challenge 3: Answer
And the answer is………………….
The statue of Leofric (above the Santander bank on the High St) which was carved by local sculptor and wood carver Harry Hems. Leofric was the first Bishop of Exeter and the date 1050 seen below the statue was the year Leofric was enthroned.
Harry Hems was a master stone sculptor and wood worker who came to Exeter from London to work on the outside of the RAMM building in 1868. Harry Hems’ firm of stonemasons and craftsmen was based in Exeter but worked across the world. They specialised in ecclesiastical items including church screens and roof bosses, and used medieval examples as inspiration for their work. On arriving in Exeter he found a ‘lucky horseshoe’ in the street, and kept it as an omen of good luck. He soon developed a thriving business in the city and established a workshop in Longbrook Street. At its peak his firm employed over 100 craftsmen. Many examples of Harry Hems medieval woodwork are held in RAMM’s collection.
The Santander building was constructed in 1905 and is a relatively late example of the Black and White style of architecture. The life size wooden statue of Leofric was carved in Hems’s workshop. Leofric
There are lots of ways you can learn more about Harry Hems and his collection online:
Learn how to read a church and look for Harry’s handiwork amongst the carvings with Church Detective
Harry Hems worked on many commissions in Exeter. The Harry Hems trail guides you around a selection of his surviving works. The trail is optimised for tablets and smart phones.