Buller Statue to stay in Exeter after unanimous U-turn from council

Buller Statue is set to stay in Exeter after council withdraws plans for its relocation Credit: Daniel Clark/LDRS

A statue in Exeter of General Sir Redvers Buller is set to remain in place following a unanimous vote from councillors to withdraw plans of its relocation.

The bronzed statue of the General and his horse Biffen stand on the outside of the entrance to Exeter College on the corner of New North Road and Hele Road.

Exeter City Council’s executive had initially agreed in January 2020 that an application should be made for the transfer of the statue to an alternative location.

However, councillors voted unanimously to overturn this decision on Tuesday 9 February after recent comments from Robert Jenrick MP.

Buller Statue was erected in 1905 and commemorates the war veteran

The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities, and Local Government made it clear that applications for listed building consent for the relocation are unlikely to be successful.

The government recently revealed plans for a new law on cultural and historic heritage which will "make clear that historic monuments should be retained and explained."

Leader of Exeter City Council, Councillor Phil Bailyk, said: "In light of the comments by the Secretary of State my Executive will be asked to amend the recommendations, and we will not be submitting a planning application to relocate the Buller statue."

There is no proposal to remove the Buller statue. I hope that is clear and we are not talking about that at all.

Cllr Phil Bailyk, Leader of Exeter City Council

No formal consultation over the future of the statue will take place but a working group to develop an anti-racism strategy for the council may be established.

The group is set to collaborate with an arts-based engagement project in conjunction with the University of Exeter and Exeter Culture to consider the role of public art and strategy in the city.

Across the region statues have been topical recently as four people were arrested last month in connection with the toppling of Edward Colston's statue in Bristol in June 2020.

Buller Statue was erected back in 1905 but has previously been vandalised due to connections with Britain’s imperial past.

Temporary information boards are still set to be erected near the statue, while it is still being considered whether the statement ‘He saved Natal’ on the plinth should be removed.

The removal of carvings on the statue's plinth are being considered

In the previous year, a review of the British statues’ ‘appropriateness’ was launched given the names carved on plinths featuring campaigners who sought to advance British imperialist interests in other countries.

Devonshire locals raised funds for the statue which was unveiled on Buller Day 116 years ago to commemorate the war veteran from Crediton.

Buller served in Canada, China, and most famously in South Africa in the Zulu Wars.

In 2019, an anarchist symbol and the word ‘scum’ were daubed on the statue, while banners saying ‘wanting for war crimes’ had also been hung on it.

Credit: Daniel Clark, The Local Democracy Reporting Service

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