Mysterious Flora – a beautiful stone statue that used to stand proud in the grounds of Stanley Royd hospital before being lost – then found again has been given a make over. Museum curator Michael McCarthy, joiner Steve Berry and decorator Chris Harris, have spent the last few months lovingly restoring Flora.
"It’s taken over three months to restore Flora; I’ve been working on it everyday– she was in a bit of a state when we first got her back. I cleaned 11 pounds of paint from her altogether. I’m glad we’ve got her back to her former glory it’s such a lovely statue," said Michael McCarthy.
Michael discovered the statue was missing while he was taking photographs to record the redevelopment of the Stanley Royd site. The statue was eventually returned to the museum in June 2003 after it was tracked down by the company who were redeveloping the Stanley Royd site.
Michael wrote to the Victoria and Albert museum, London who said that the statue dated back to the mid to early 1800s and depicts the Roman Goddess Flora.
After looking through hospital records Michael found the first mention of Flora was in 1929 when she was relocated from another part of the hospital, but nothing is known of her before this.
Michael made a plea to local people for information about the statue’s origins but is still no nearer to solving the mystery of Flora. "Lots of staff remember the statue and many thought it was Florence Nightingale or Edith Cavell. At Christmas staff used to dress her up and decorate her – she holds lots of fond memories for staff. It’s a pity we can’t trace it’s source, my guess is that it originates from one of the properties that was owned by the hospital such as Stanley Hall, Hatfeild Hall (now Normanton golf course) or Oulton Hall (now a hotel)."
Flora is displayed in the Trust’s museum, Fieldhead which is open to visitors every Wednesday 10am to 4:30pm. If you have any information about Flora’s origins please contact public relations at Fieldhead on 01924 327055.