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Home   Gravesend   News   Article

Iconic Pocahontas statue in grounds of St George's Church in Gravesend targeted by metal thieves

17 January 2014
by Alex Matthews

The bronze statue of the native American princess, which has attracted tourists from all over the world, has had the feather of her headdress stolen.

She stands in the grounds of St George's Church, a reminder of how Pocahontas died in the town on her way back home to America after spending a year in England.

The feather-less Pocahontas statue in Gravesend

The feather-less Pocahontas statue in Gravesend

The thieves would have had to clamber onto the 6ft plinth and then ripped the feather off her headdress - a further 5ft up.

A Gravesham council spokesman said: "This is the third occasion since 2010 that such damage has been done to the statue.

"On the first occasion in early 2010, the tip of the feather was broken off. It was anonymously returned to the council having been found or handed in to the church several months later.

"By that time arrangements had been made by the council via its links with Virginia, USA, for a cast to be taken of the whole feather from the replica statue in Jamestown, which they were very happy to assist us with.

"From that cast, the council was able to get a replica made and we will use the same cast to do so again on this occasion."

Pocahontas before her feather was removed in St George's Church, Gravesend

Pocahontas before her feather was removed in St George's Church, Gravesend

The feather was first reported missing on December 23, although nobody knows when it was actually taken. A replacement will cost close to £1,000.

The spokesman said the theft was "shocking".

He said: "We don't know whether people did this for a prank but it's clearly wanton and it's not amusing.

"It is one of the tourist attractions which does attract people from America and the damage doesn't put us in a very good light."

The story of the princess was immortalised by Disney in 1995 with their animated picture Pocahontas, but people in Gravesend were aware of her story for decades before the statue was erected in 1958.

Pocahontas before her feather was removed in St George's Church, Gravesend

Pocahontas before her feather was removed in St George's Church, Gravesend

The monument, in the grounds of St George's Church gardens, is not the only homage to the princess's time in the town.

Stained glass windows and a tablet were also donated to St George's Church in 1914 by the society of Colonial Dames of America and there is also a mural depicting her saving the life of English captain John Smith, opposite Gravesend station in Clive Road.

After visiting England, Pocahontas was due to set sail from Gravesend and travel back to her native state of Virginia in 1617, but became seriously ill just offshore and was taken back to the town where she sadly passed away aged only 21.

It is believed she was buried in the grounds of the church shortly after.

Gravesham council has reported the crime to the police as criminal damage and investigations are ongoing.


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