The inscription to General Gordon’s memory is in an unusual position, at the bottom of a lamp-post, at the junction of Fore Street and Magdalen Road, Heavitree.
The inscription reads:
Charles George Gordon 26 January 1885
The date is that of GENERAL GORDON‘s famous death at the siege of Khartoum.
He was born in 1833 in Woolwich into a military background, but his family was connected with the St Thomas area of Exeter. His grandparents had lived in Lower Bowhill House, subsequently the site of St Thomas Lunatic Asylum, and their memorial is in St Thomas Church. Gordon visited the church early in 1884 to see the memorial shortly before being summoned to the Sudan where he was die a hero a year later.
Gordon was a close friend of the Heavitree vicar, Prebendary Reginald Henry Barnes, who was so affected by Gordon’s death that he paid for the lamp with the inscription to be erected. Preb Barnes has another claim to be remembered, as father of the actress Dame Irene Vanbrugh, who was chosen in 1895 by Oscar Wilde to play Gwendoline in the very first production of his play, The Importance of being Ernest. JM
In 2016 Exeter Civic Society paid for the renovation of the lamp post.