Penrhyn Monument, St Tegai’s Church

Westmacott's monument to the first Lord and Lady Penrhyn


29 February 2012

Llandygai, Gwynedd

SH 60079 70986; 53.21744°N, 4.09701°W


In 1820, Sir Richard Westmacott (1775 – 1856) — at the time Britain’s foremost sculptor of public statues — created this memorial in St Tegai’s Church to the first Baron Penrhyn. The romanticised neoclassical tableau, with idealised life-sized figures, depicts a quarryman and peasant woman mourning over a sarcophagus. Above the inscription can be seen four bucolic scenes with cherubs: playing pan pipes whilst tending goats; working slate; learning to read; and dancing and harvesting.

Richard Pennant (1737 – 1808) married Anne Susannah Warburton, heiress to the Penrhyn estate, in 1765 and in 1783 was granted an Irish peerage (an honour which did not disqualify the recipient from sitting in the House of Commons in London), becoming the first Baron Penrhyn. He served as an MP for Liverpool and, owning 8,000 acres of sugar plantations and over 600 slaves in Jamaica, was an outspoken supporter of slavery and fervent campaigner against the abolition movement.

Pennant used the great wealth derived from the plantations to invest in the Penrhyn estate and to industrialise the slate quarries of Bethesda. He developed the transport infrastructure to distribute the slate products, building Port Penrhyn and establishing a rail link from Penrhyn Quarry to the port.

Richard Pennant, 1st Baron Penrhyn (Wikipedia)