PMSA National Recording Project - South Yorkshire

Doncaster Metropolitan Borough

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ArtistMaker: 2004:01:02 21:08:18
TitleOfWork: sculpture on Corn Exchange (Genius presiding over the industries of the county [1])
DescriptionOfPhoto: View of the relief above the main door
DateOfCreation: 1873
Dimensions:
Medium: sandstone (red granite pilasters, red Mansfield sandstone)
Location: Market Place, Corn Exchange
AtoZReference: p.32 6D
Postcode: DN1 1NG
Street: Market Place
TownOrVillage: Doncaster
AreaInTown: Market
MetropolitanBorough: Doncaster
Photographer: Dave Ball
ImageCopyright: Dave Ball
AccessionNumber: d086a
Description: In the tympanum over the principal entrance to the building is a sculptural relief showing three female figures in classical robes. The central, winged, figure is offering a wreath to the heads of the lower seated figures, and is supported by the keystone of the arch on which is carved the Borough Arms. Behind the lower left figure, who holds a sickle in her left hand and has her right arm around a sheaf of wheat, is a representation of Doncaster Guild-hall. Behind the woman on the right is a view of the Mansion House,; she has a right hand on a roll of carpet and her left rests on the head of a cow.
Described in the local newspapers as "a Genius ... presiding over and rewarding the special industries of the county. The figure on the left, symbolising architecture ... On the right is another figure with the symbols of cattle, wool, flax, and hemp..". Definition of genius - see Sheardown. The coats of arms of the four county towns who were the principal traders with Doncaster markets, York, Lincoln, Derby and Nottingham, are represented on shields by the circular windows of the building,s staircases. [2]

Inscription: Beneath the coat of arms on the keystone of the entrance arch: CONFORT ET LIESSE

Commission: On 22 May 1866, the architect W. Watkins won a competition, inaugurated by Doncaster Town Council, for his design for the Corn Exchange and with it the 1st prize of 100. It was not until 9 February 1870 that the Council decided at a public meeting to proceed with the building. The foundation stone was laid by the Mayor, A.J. Smith, on 22 September 1870 and the building formally opened on 17 April, 1873. The delay seems to have been caused by the prior need to erect new Cattle Markets and abattoirs nearby. Contractors for the various parts of the buildings were for the most part local; the builders being Athron's of Doncaster. The only mention of sculptural responsibility occurs in the Doncaster Gazette where the last entry in a list of the various contractors for the building states: " .. carvers: C.H. & J. Mabey of Westminster." Later in the same article the total cost of the New Corn Exchange was estimated as being not "much less than 25,000". [3]

Comment: It has been widely for centuries believed in Doncaster that this particular site was first used as a market by the Romans. [4] The markets have long been held an important feature of Doncaster's social and commercial life, this belief being reflected in the detailed and specific elements in this carving. The Corn Exchange is attached on three sides to other market halls; there being over 500 stalls trading in this area.
After a fire destroyed the glass roof and the main interior of the Corn Exchange, there was considerable antagonism towards a Council plan to redevelop the Corn Exchange as an arts venue, despite the fact that the Corn Exchange was originally also designed as a venue for where concerts, exhibitions and public meetings could be held. The building's opening ceremony had been celebrated with a public concert.
This building was erected on the former site of the Wheat Cross, a round stone column, surmounted by a ball and set on a circular flagged base which was erected in 1679 [6] . Both this and the nearby Butter Cross were demolished by 1846 to make space for the complex of Market Buildings now on the site.
References [1] Sheardown, W. (1872) The Marts and Markets, at Doncaster: Their Rise and Progress and Sources of Supply. p. 53. The Doncaster Gazette. Facsimile reprint 1979. Doncaster Library Service.
[2] Sheardown, W. (1872) p.49
[3] The Doncaster Chronicle Friday 18 April 1873 p.8 " The New Corn Exchange"
[4] Sheardown, W. (1872) p.22
[5] Sheardown, W. (1872) p.43.





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