war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper


Exhibition 2006

The Sculptor of Dover War Memorial

Richard GouldenRichard Reginald Goulden was born in Dover on 30 August 1876 and was christened at St. Mary's, Dover, on 1 October 1876. He was one of the four children of John James Goulden, born in Canterbury in 1841, and his wife Charlotte, née Wright, who was born at Witney, Oxfordshire. The couple were married at Ducklington in 1871. 

A former journeyman cabinet-maker John James Goulden set up in 1865 a bookselling, stationery, and printing business in Dover, followed by a branch in Folkestone. Sadly, he died when Richard was three. Mrs Goulden carried on the business at 176 Snargate Street, remaining involved until 1902. 

Growing up in Dover, Richard was educated at Dover College and at the Dover School of Art. He won a Royal Exhibition Scholarship to the Royal College of Art, London. There he studied architecture and then sculpture, being awarded prizes for both and the travelling scholarship for sculpture.  When he returned, he produced two panels for the Carnegie Trustees in Dunfermline and was invited to become their Art Advisor. Living in Dunfermline for two years, he executed several commissions, amongst them the fountain "Let Noble Ambition". He also produced the statue of Carnegie himself and the Carnegie hero medal.

During the Great War, Richard served with the Royal Engineers in France, gaining a "Mentioned in Dispatches" on 30 April 1916 and a temporary captainship in the first half of that year. Invalided from the Front Line, he served during the remaining years of the war at Brightlingsea, appointed adjutant to the Australian Engineers, and then in London, attached to the Chief Engineer of the Royal Engineers, and in command of a special emergency Corps. His final discharge on 25 July 1919 described his civilian occupation as Designer and Sculptor.  A number of War Memorials were amongst his subsequent works, including The Bank of England, Kingston-on-Thames, Gateshead, Reigate and Redhill, and St John's Church, Hackney.

memorial at Newhaven

The Dover War Memorial was erected and dedicated in 1924. The design of the bronze figure was based on "Let Noble Ambition", 1908. Afterwards the Town Council wrote to Mr Goulden that they offered "their congratulations on his beautiful work, the assurance of their high appreciation of motif, design, and workmanship, and their best thanks for an artistic memorial which is not only worthy of the object and the borough but will always reflect the greatest credit on the sculptor." 

Richard Goulden died on 6 August 1932, leaving a widow, Muriel Olive Cecile, née Gant, and their children Wilma Ruth and Michael. He was buried at Newhaven. A virtual duplicate of the bronze figure on the Dover War Memorial is located near the entrance of the cemetery. When presenting the figure the year after the sculptor's death, Mrs Goulden said that it was one of the best pieces of his work.


The daughter of Arthur John and Edith Louisa Gant, Mrs Goulden was a water colourist and illustrator. She founded the Chelsea illustrators, of which Margaret Tempest, of Little Grey Rabbit fame, was a member. Her work may also be seen on Dover Town Memorial. It was Mrs Goulden who designed the panel of seventy further names, erected and dedicated in 1934.


Other works by Mr Goulden include, we understand: George Frederick Watts on the facade of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Dolly Burton memorial and a commemorative plaque for Eadweard Muybridge at Kingston-upon-Thames, the Margaret McDonald memorial at Lincoln's Inn Fields, fountains at Malvern and at Shaw, Lancashire, reliefs on the Brightlingsea War Memorial, the Middlesex Guildhall War Memorial, the Bromsgrove memorial, the Surbiton memorial, grave at Newhaventhe War Memorial at St Michael, Cornhill, the Crompton War Memorial and an RAMC memorial at Millbank barracks for which he was complimented by the King.

Mr Goulden's last work was the memorial in Kensal Green cemetery to Thomas Power O'Connor, journalist and politician, completed just before Mr Goulden died. In 1997 the one-and-a-half life-size statue of the Gurkha Soldier was unveiled at Whitehall, Horseguards Avenue; a smaller earlier version stands at the head of the Foreign Office main staircase in Whitehall. The sculptor, Philip Jackson, based his design on a life-sized statue created by Mr Goulden in 1924

Left: "Ambition of Youth" 1908. This figure depicts a young man reaching for a winged victor's wreath. Image from "Sculptures from Academy Architecture 1904-1908", digitised for the Microsoft Corporation, use permissible for non-commercial, personal, research, or educational purposes.

picture: Richard Reginald Goulden, by courtesy of R J Goulden
with grateful thanks to Mr R J Goulden for extensive help with our Sculptor's biography
with thanks to Kris for information about "Ambition of Youth"
illustrations: memorial at Newhaven cemetery and Mr and Mrs Goulden's grave at Newhaven by Richard Stanley

note: Miss Goulden, Richard's sister, assisted Mr East, who ran the Art School at the Dover School of Art in Ladywell.

In the Dover Express of 20 September 1901 is an account of the prizewinners of the Dover Municiapl School of Art, Science, and Technology. Richard Goulden received this year his scholarship for the Royal Collegel of Art, South Kensignton. Covering three years, it was worth 60 per annum, and only ten were offered each year throughout the United Kingdom. His success was well-deserved as he won prizes that year in many of the categories. For a set of works he gained a prize of books, and in the examinations he gained a first in Modelling from the Antique, Advanced Modelling Design, Anatomy, Drawing from the Antique, Drawing the Antique from Memory, Painting Ornament, Architecture, and Drawing in Light and Shade. He also gained an Excellent for Modelling from Life and in Drawing from Life, and Second Class awards in Historic Ornament, Painting from Still Life, and Principles of Ornament, 

Copyright 2006-14 © Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved