Samson is unique. A survivor from the 17th century, he was saved by the layers and layers of paint which eventually obliterated his features. Within living memory, the Samson statue which stood outside the building in Tombland, one of the most prestigious areas in Norwich, was a Michelin Man; round and bloated, with cloud-like hair and a moustache like a string of sausages.
Samson has stood guard outside the magnificent building, with his partner Hercules, for almost 350 years. The mighty pair were installed by Christopher Jay in 1657, the year he was Mayor of Norwich. Over the centuries, they witnessed two World Wars, a fire and the antics of lovers and party revellers from the 30s through to the 90s, when the building was used as a ballroom and then a nightclub.
Time, however, took its toll on these local heroes, eventually encasing them in layers of thick, white paint. In 1993, the pair were removed from the building for safekeeping and to prevent any further damage and replaced by fibreglass replicas.
And this is when an amazing discovery was made. Tests revealed that whilst Hercules was a Victorian replica, Samson dated from the early 17th century. And so it was revealed that the city’s favourite nightclub doorman was, in fact, a unique survivor of 17th-century civic sculpture.
Over the past three years, conservators at Plowden & Smith in London have painstakingly removed sixty layers of paint. And so, this Biblical giant has emerged from his cocoon-like casing, revealing the most intricate of features, including curly long hair and strong arms bulging with popping veins and muscle and remnants of gilding.
Now the conservation work is complete we want to display Samson, in a state of the art display case where he can stand proud once again, giving museum visitors the chance to see him in his glory.
But, we need your help to make this happen.
By donating to this project, you can help Samson on the last leg of his journey home, ensuring that his future will be secure for years to come and giving him this last chance to take centre stage in his home city of Norwich.