Charles Frohman Memorial

Nominated by: Sarah Campbell

This iconic Statue of a naked nymph, mysteriously staring out towards the passing thoroughfare, sits above a drinking fountain, beneath the silence of porcelain blossom trees, at the foot of Marlow’s prominently sited All Saints Church.  She is positioned with a view towards the banks of the river Thames, visible to all who enter the town over Marlow’s historic suspension bridge – a smaller scale version of the Chain Bridge across the River Danube, in Budapest, designed by William Tierney Clark.

As children we would ponder where she came from, naively believing my father, James Campbell, a past Mayor of the town – that she was called ‘Chilly Lizzy’.  As an adult the poignancy and symbolism of this elegantly charming sculpture became ever more significant.  She was erected on Easter Saturday in 1924 by friends and admirers of Charles Frohman, as a tribute to the world-famous theatre producer and showman, whose life was cut tragically short, drowning in the sinking of the Luisitania, which was torpedoed in the Atlantic Ocean on 7th May 1915.

The Charles Frohman Memorial is Grade 11 Listed, by the sculptor Leonard Stanford Merrifield FRBS, attracting worldwide visitors.  It is said that the railings were removed during the war as they were needed as armaments.  The words around the base are a translated poem from a ‘fragment of Sappho’: ‘For it is not right that in a house the muses haunt mourning should dwell; such things befit us not’.  Notably she is adorned by the Marlow War Memorial, standing in grateful honour of those who fell in the great and second world wars.

Charles Frohman, 1856-1915, was an American born theatre producer, from humble beginnings in Ohio, going on to run large numbers of famous theatres in London, New York and Paris.  A great friend and supporter of J M Barrie, he orchestrated the first production of Peter Pan in December 1904 at the Duke of York Theatre, when no other producer would back it.  The play was an instant success and was run by Frohman in his theatres round the world and continued to captivate millions of children over the decades.

Frohman visited England every summer from 1900, having a great affection for Marlow, regarding it as, “The most beautiful spot in the entire world”.  Particularly appreciating the view from The Causeway over the bridge and the river to The Compleat Angler, where the statue now stands.  The Statue depicts The Nymph, epitomising the spirit of youth, representing the feeling of magical enchantment as characterised in Frohman’s Peter pan productions.  Marlow Town Council is the custodian of the Statue.

This is a powerful monument defining an ‘Object of Culture’, representing Buckinghamshire’s young and old generation, through world war crisis, to the joy of youthfulness and new life.  Leading onto the theatrical world of story telling and the belief of everlasting hope.

The Charles Frohman Memorial was nominated by Sarah Campbell, Vice-Chair of the Marlow Town Regatta and Festival.