Henry Morton Stanley sculpture, St Asaph

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Link to French translationHenry Morton Stanley sculpture

This sculpted tower tells the life story of journalist and explorer Henry Morton Stanley, celebrated in Victorian times for the quote: “Dr Livingstone, I presume?”

The sculpture was designed by Gary and Thomas Thrussell, of Cornwall. Commissioned by St Asaph Council with funding from Cadwyn Clwyd, it was placed here in June 2011. Scenes from Stanley’s eventful and sometimes controversial life spiral around the tower. Some of the images were drawn by local school pupils. The tower is topped by a miniature copy of a Congolese effigy.

Stanley was born as John Rowlands to unmarried parents in Denbigh in 1841. He was raised at the Union Workhouse in St Asaph, which had been built only a short while earlier after a meeting at this hotel in 1837. The workhouse building, by Upper Denbigh Road, still stands. It was the HM Stanley Hospital for many decades.

After John Rowlands arrived in the USA in 1859, a merchant called Henry Stanley helped him find his feet. Rowlands took has friend’s name, and later served – on both sides – in the American Civil War.

He had been working as the New York Herald’s special correspondent for two years when, in 1869, the editor dispatched him to Africa to interview the Scottish missionary David Livingstone, who had not communicated with the outside world for two years. In November 1871 Stanley met him near Lake Tanganyika. On finding him, looking pale and “wearied”, Stanley claimed simply to have lifted his hat and uttered the words: “Dr Livingstone, I presume?”

Stanley’s dispatches from Africa were popular with American and British readers. He continued to explore the continent and hatched a plan to exploit the Congo’s natural resources. He enlisted Belgium’s support and began constructing roads, using forced labour. He was said at the time to shoot African people “as if they were monkeys”.

He became MP for Lambeth, London, in 1895, was knighted four years later, and died in 1904.

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