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Blue Boy Statue - Princesshay

Page updated 20th March 2012

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Blueboy in The Old Exonian ClubThis Blue Boy statue was situated at the spot in Princesshay on which the St John's Hospital School was located. The statue originally stood for many years at the entrance. The Blue Boy was removed while the new Princesshay was constructed, and placed on a new plinth for the opening in September 2007.

It is known that the original Blue Boy statue was made of stone, and by 1830 was headless, indicating that it was already very old. It was probably at, or soon after, the founding of St John's Hospital School in 1632, that the statue was made. By 1956, this statue was at 'Cobham', Rose Barn Lane with a new head, and was soon removed to the chapel of Exeter School; it is now in a new garden at the side of the Butterfield building. Standing 4 ft 4ins (1.3 metres) high, the head does not match the body and the hands are missing.

There were four cast-iron Blue Boys made when the schoolroom at the St John's Hospital School was rebuilt during 1859/60. Somewhat smaller than the original at 3 ft 6 inches (1.06 metres) high, two had open backs, intended for standing against a wall. After the school was closed in July 1931, two of the statues were displayed in the Hall of the Vicars Choral, South Street, and two disappeared. The two statues in the Hall of the Vicars Choral were rescued after the building was totally destroyed in the 1942 blitz and taken to Upton Pyne, Clyst St Lawrence, a property that belonged to the St John's Hospital Trust. The two lost statues turned up in a builder's yard a few years later.

The inscription reads:

THIS STATUE OF A BLUE BOY
STOOD IN THE COURTYARD OF
SAINT JOHN'S HOSPITAL SCHOOL
FOUNDED ON THIS SITE
AS A BLUECOAT SCHOOL
BY THE CHAMBER OF EXETER,
A.D. 1636 IN THE
DISSOLVED MEDIAEVAL HOSPITAL
OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST.
THE SCHOOL CONTINUED UNTIL 1931
IN THE NEW BUILDINGS ERECTED IN 1859
WHICH WERE DESTROYED BY
ENEMY ACTION ON MAY 4TH 1942

Where are all the statues now?

Blueboy in Princesshay The statue in the old Princesshay in 2004. Blueboy in Princesshay The Blue Boy in the new Princesshay.

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