Dorset House Garden is a small garden located beside Church Street and the adjacent pathway leads to St Mary’s Church. It has four benches and a sculpture, ‘The Children of Calais’ by local artist, Ian Wolter. The sculpture portrays six British children as refugees caught in the present migration crisis. Their poses echo Auguste Rodin’s famous The Burghers of Calais, completed in 1895. The Children of Calais was unveiled on 8th June 2018 by Lord Alf Dubs.
Rodin’s solemn composition commemorates an event during the siege of Calais in 1347. The English King offered to spare the lives of the people of the city on condition that six of its burghers would surrender themselves. Although they expected to be executed, the burghers’ lives were spared by the intervention of the English queen.
The Children of Calais evokes a parallel narrative: the desperate situation of the young refugees, and the potential for humanity to yet hold sway.