Architect's niece inspires NHS gargoyle on Christchurch Priory

Watch Richard Slee's report from Christchurch Priory. He spoke to architect Columba Cook and Canon Charles Stewart.

The new sculpture in place at the Priory Credit: PA

The events of the Covid- 19 pandemic have been preserved in stone in the form of a new gargoyle placed on Christchurch Priory. 

The image of a doctor wearing a face mask is a tribute to the work of NHS staff over the past year - and should now last for many centuries. 

It is one of six new sculptures unveiled at the 11th century priory, which has been undergoing a programme of renovations.

The NHS sculpture was inspired by an image sent to architect Columba Cook by his niece, who works in Intensive Care at hospitals in Bristol and Swindon. 

The picture which inspired the new sculpture

As part of ongoing conservation work estimated at £660,000, a fresh insert of Queen Elizabeth II's cypher was installed.

Rev'd Canon Charles Stewart, head of the parish said: "We wanted to pay tribute to our longest running monarch because, as of next year, she would have spent 70 years on the throne, and her contribution to the nation and the world has been monumental.”

The other four gargoyles include former mayor and burgess of Christchurch James Druitt, engineer Donald Bailey who invented the Bailey bridge, an unnamed figure to represent all of those who have contributed to the priory in recent years, and a fox, representing the animal kingdom.