The triumphalist equestrian statue of Sir Redvers Buller at the junction of Hele Road and New North Road, Exeter, was unveiled on 6 September 1905 after thousands of members of the public had subscribed towards it. The sculptor was Adrian Jones (1845-1938), whose most famous work is the four-horse chariot at Hyde Park Corner, London. The bronze statue of Buller astride his horse “Biffen” weighs four and a half tons and is mounted on a base of Cornish granite weighing 35 tons. The statue has its back towards Crediton, Buller’s birthplace, which was said to have annoyed people in the town at the time.
Inscriptions on three faces around the base read:
1859 – 1900 India, China, Canada, Ashanti, Egypt, Soudan, SouthAfrica. He Saved Natal
Redvers Buller V.C., G.C.B., G.C.M.G, of Downes
Erected by his countrymen at home and beyond the seas 1905
On the fourth face is the badge, in brass, of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps incorporating their motto Celer et Audax (Swift and Bold).
Beneath the statue, on the side facing Bury Meadow Park, can be seen the names of the Founder, A. B. Burton, and the sculptor, Adrian Jones.
General Sir REDVERS (pronounced “Reevers”) BULLER is one of the few people to have been present at the unveiling of their own statue. Although he was a soldier of undoubted courage and unusual physical strength, his ability as a commander was increasingly questioned at the beginning of the last century, and he was dismissed from his command in 1901 after he broke King’s Regulations by defending his tactics at a public lunch. The people of the west country expressed their support and admiration for him by erecting the statue. Later historians have felt that Buller was made a scapegoat for the faults of the Army at the time. He died at his home, Downes, on his large family estates, and was buried at Crediton. Evidence of his public spiritedness can be seen in many places in Devon. JM
A summary’s of Buller’s life and military exploits can be read in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and there is much information on-line and in history books.