Statue’s proper place

I READ with interest your front page item on James Toller, The Eynesbury Giant (Hunts Post St Neots edition, October 10). I am always concerned when I read printed information that is historically misleading and unsubstantiated. James Toller was not bor

I READ with interest your front page item on James Toller, The Eynesbury Giant (Hunts Post St Neots edition, October 10).

I am always concerned when I read printed information that is historically misleading and unsubstantiated.

James Toller was not born in Eynesbury, as your piece claimed, but was in fact born in Abbotsley. Baptism records prove this. It is, however, true that he came to live in Eynesbury with his parents when he was very young.

They lived in a small cottage off of St Mary's Street, Eynesbury, where he grew up and became known as the Eynesbury Giant.


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A number of incorrect statements regarding James's height have been committed to print in articles and books relating to local history. I believe that the nearest and most reliable record is that on his memorial stone laid in the floor of Eynesbury Parish Church, stating his height when he died as being eight feet one and a half inches. The difference is probably due to the tendency of humans to exaggerate.

The idea of celebrating the town's heritage is a good one but, if a statue of James were to be set up, it should be in Eynesbury. The statue should be near to where he lived (now demolished) or near to the parish church of Eynesbury. After all, he is known as the Eynesbury Giant, not the St Neots Giant. He belongs to Eynesbury and should remain so.

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GORDON DEPLEDGE, Churchwarden, Eynesbury Parish Church

* I WRITE in connection with the news that St Neots Town Council, that group with its fingers on the pulse of local thought, is planning to build a statue of the Eynesbury Giant with funds garnered from a local lottery, notwithstanding that in previous announcements the money was to be used in support of the much vaunted cinema project. Dream on. But that is another matter.

I find the building of a statue of James Toller offensive in the extreme, the man was treated as a sideshow freak - while presumably suffering from a disease that promoted abnormal growth - and was quite rightly buried in secret so that thrill-seekers and aficionados of the freakish could not disturb his dignity.

Is this how the council wishes to promote St Neots, as a freak show? How would councillors react if a statue were raised of any one of them, not because of any great services to the community, but merely because they happened to be afflicted in some curious manner?

In my view, if a statue is to be erected, it should be of John Bellingham, local resident and Prime Ministerial assassin, on the forecourt directly outside the town council offices with his pistol pointing at the entrance to the premises to remind our "worthy" councillors that they are there to serve the general interest - not that of the select and selective few.

Get back to real issues. Where is Rowley's £1million, and how is that to be spent?

STEPHEN BALDWIN, Priory Road, St Neots

* ST NEOTS could save on the production of a statue to John Toller by building him to eight feet one and a half inches (as recorded on his memorial stone in Eynesbury Church) rather than the 8ft 11.5in as given in your front page article.

Barry Chapman is right to point out the need for an improvement in local knowledge of St Neots heritage. The Priory area could be improved as part of a heritage plan to show off the three 13th century column bases of the Priory of St Neot, which at present lie unseen under manhole covers.

A statue of St Neot with a model of his lost Priory should be part of a Heritage trail. I would be happy to share my Priory Heritage ideas with any interested people and groups via pjibbett@aol.com .

PETER IBBETT, Masefield Avenue, Eaton Ford

* WHAT a brilliantly useless idea by our councillors. If we are going to have a statue, let it be of John Bellingham. At least he did something useful - he assassinated a politician.

TERRY COOPER, Byron Place, Eaton Ford

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