Published: 10:01, 19 October 2020
| Updated: 10:04, 19 October 2020
A search has been launched for two long-lost stag figures previously believed to have been melted down.
The larger-than-life statues once adorned the historic Hubert Fountain in Ashford's Victoria Park.
It had been thought the eye-catching pair were destroyed during the Second World War for use in munitions, but new evidence has arisen that they were still present in the 1950s – albeit minus their antlers.
Archival work was being carried out as part of a multi-million National Lottery Heritage Fund project to renovate the park when the odd discovery was made.
Now Ashford Borough Council (ABC) is asking people for information in a bid to solve the mystery and return the pair to their original home.
Victoria Fannon, ABC's volunteer and community engagement officer, explained: “We were looking at archive photos of the park and came across a collection where the same photo had been taken from the same place every year over several years.
"One of these was from around the 1950s and shows the stags in place but missing their antlers.
"The date shows that they can’t have been removed and melted down as part of the war effort.
“We’re appealing to anyone who might know what happened to them, or if anyone can narrow down the timeframe when they were moved from the park.
"They were big, life-size iron models so wouldn’t have been easy to move.”
The Hubert Fountain was built in Kensington for the Great London Exposition of 1862, but was brought to Ashford in 1912.
Made of cast iron, it was listed in 1976 and has reached Grade II*-listed status.
According to Historic England, it is the finest of only three examples of listed cast iron ornamental fountains in England.
The organisation also says it is one of only three surviving listed ornamental fountains in the country displayed at 19th century international exhibitions, and the only listed ornamental fountain in England cast by a French foundry.
The project team is also looking for participants in a project gathering people’s living memories of Victoria park, so if you would like to be involved - as a volunteer memory collector or you have memories to share from 1900 to today - then get in touch with Victoria.
If you have any information that might help find the stags, or any old photos of Victoria Park and the stags, contact Victoria on Victoria.firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the project, click here.