Plans unveiled to renovate Ouida memorial in Bury St Edmunds

The Ouida Memorial as it looks today

The Ouida Memorial as it looks today - Credit: Archant

Plans have been unveiled to restore and renovate a “tired looking” memorial in Bury St Edmunds which is situated near a busy junction.

The wording on the Ouida Memorial

The wording on the Ouida Memorial - Credit: Archant

It’s being spearheaded by the Bury Society, a charity which looks to care and preserve the past, present and future of the town, with the work being costed at over £6,000.

The Ouida Memorial is situated in Vinery Road at the junction with Out Westgate, Horringer Road and Petticoat Lane and has fallen into disrepair.

Martyn Taylor, the chairman of the Bury Society, said they will be donating £2,000 with councillor Patrick Chung adding £1,000 from his locality budget and a futher £3,000 being applied for in grant money from Bury St Edmunds Town Council.

Once the work has been completed Bury in Bloom intend to plant flowers round the memorial and tidy up the area and tidy up the footpath.

The Ouida Memorial in its heyday

The Ouida Memorial in its heyday - Credit: Archant

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Melanie Lesser, its co-ordinator, said: “We want to use blue flowers to replicate the water trough at the bottom of the memorial which was once used as a place for dogs to drink.”

The history of the monument dates back to 1910 when it was unveiled by Lady Evelyn Guiness.

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Ouida was the childhood pronunciation of part of Maria Louise de la Rame’s name and she was born in 1839, in Union Terrace, in Hospital Road.

The few occasions she saw her father he filled her head with romantic notions and this was to set her on a career in writing at the age of 18.

Arriving in London she adopted the pen-name of Ouida and would write over 40 novels and books.

Mr Taylor said: “Money came easy as her work akin to Mills & Boon and Barbara Cartland was lapped up by Victorian society. Her spendthrift lifestyle in a London Hotel had her spending enormous sums on flowers alone whilst she entertained literary figures and politicians.

“She eventually moved to Italy where she welcomed all the local stray dogs to her villa.

“When she heard from her friend that there was a proposal to erect a plaque to her she said ‘This tomfoolery in Suffolk annoys me very much’ but anyway in 1907 it was put up on the gable end of Union Terrace in 1907 and is still there.

“In January 1908, aged 69, she died in Viareggio in abject poverty from pneumonia. What friends she had in England lobbied the Daily Mirror to have a memorial erected to her as they had published a photograph of a peasant woman purporting to be Ouida, it wasn’t.”

“The funds for this were raised by subscriptions by the Daily Mirror by way of an apology.”

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