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The statue interpretation process – what we’ve done

Our approach uses best practice in interpretation to tell the fuller stories of these men. This involves community engagement, and working with experts in listed or protected objects like these statues.

The statue of Thomas Guy by Peter Scheemakers sits within a central courtyard outside Guy’s Hospital

What we have done

We have developed fuller stories about Thomas Guy and Sir Robert Clayton. Their stories include photos from historical archives and information about:

  • How they made their wealth.
  • Their connections to the trade of enslaved African people.
  • The time in which they lived.
  • Their contributions to the hospitals.

This is often referred to as interpretation. Our approach uses best practice in interpretation. This involves working with experts in listed or protected objects like these statues. It also includes community engagement. It is in line with the government’s ‘retain and explain’ approach and with advice from Historic England.

We have put the stories on interpretation panels next to the statues. These stories, and the information in this website, aim to encourage people to reflect on what the statues say about the past and present.

The principles that informed our approach

  • Combine best practice and expertise in interpretation and community engagement
  • Provide information that is factual and rooted in historical research
  • Reflect the experiences and perspectives of under-represented people and their unheard voices, who come into contact more frequently with the statues
  • Be accessible and easy to understand
  • Encourage engagement and self-reflection
  • Do not add to the celebratory nature of the statues
  • Tell the fuller stories at and beyond the statues

Who has been involved?

Since summer 2020, we have listened to people’s views on whether the statues should be on display and how to present them in public. For the interpretation design, we sought the views of people and communities who frequently pass by the statues.

People told us they wanted the focus to be on telling fuller stories of these men – and this is what we’ve committed to do. The text on the panels sets out facts that tell the stories of the men’s lives in the context in which they lived. The stories show their philanthropy and the source of their wealth, including the connection to the trade of enslaved people. They also reflect British society at the time.

We have worked with a range of experts and community groups to inform this work.

Get in touch

If you'd like to learn more about the statues, our conservation and interpretation process, or to give feedback, please get in touch via our form.