Delahunt and the Figurative Monument:
Sculptress Jennifer Delahunt is one of the enigmas of Westfield. The monument that she created in 1926 remains a central and dominant feature of the village, yet little is known about its creator.
Miss Delahunt was commissioned by the Westfield committee to design a monument that would serve as a fitting focal point for the village. She was subsequently reported in the Lancaster Guardian to have said that she felt “honoured” to have been entrusted with such an important job.
Employed as the modelling mistress at the Lancaster School of Art, in the Storey Institute, and later as an art teacher at the Lancaster Grammar School for Girls, she was a graduate of the Manchester Municipal School of Art. At the unveiling of her Westfield monument, in August 1926, Herbert Lushington Storey (who paid for the work completely out of his own pocket) said that he had always wanted a local artist to do the job. He described Miss Delahunt as “most talented”.
The monument shows two life-size figures: one soldier, fit and healthy, is seen providing a drink of water for another who is clearly in distress. The artist’s intention was to capture the ethos behind the creation of the village with the able helping the less able. Now Grade II listed, it is unusual in that it shows a British soldier in a weak and vulnerable condition at a time when the trend was very much to emphasise such victorious qualities as bravery and strength.
The two figures were created in the image of two life models, both of whom were serving members of the King’s Own Royal Regiment: the standing figure is modeled on Private Richard Henry Allen of Rochdale, and the man he is helping a representation of Captain Jack Ward of Walney Island near Barrow.
Created in clay at the Storey Institute, Miss Delahunt’s design was taken to London to be set in bronze. The move away from stone sculpting to pre-cast work in clay had opened the door to a new movement of female sculptors at the end of the 19th century: it appears that large-scale works in the medium had previously been deemed too difficult because of the physical implications of working with heavy stone.