Harrogate receives bequest of statue ‘La Douche’

26 March 2014

Harrogate has been bequeathed an early 20th century statue – ‘La Douche’ – sculpted by the notable artist Charles Raphael Peyre.

The bequest has been made in honour of Mrs Mehroo Jehangir daughter of the late Sir Dhunjibhoy Bomanji and his wife Lady Frainy Bomanji.

The Bomanji family is well known for their tradition of service and generosity to Harrogate which was formally recognised when Lady Bomanji received the Freedom of the Borough in 1984. Mehroo continued this family tradition after the death of both her parents and until her own death some two years ago.

La Douche, which was sculpted in France and exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1913, was purchased by Sir Dhunjibhoy for his principal home in Windsor where it remained until the 1950s when Lady Bomanji moved permanently to her Harrogate residence which the family had owned from the mid 1920s.

The statue, which has been positioned in the public gardens on Montpellier Hill, has been donated in memory of Mehroo by the widow of her brother, Mrs Frainy Ardeshir. A plaque will sit alongside the statue to record and honour Mehroo’s selfless service.

Mrs Ardeshir said: Mehrooo loved her home town of Harrogate. We know that many people will have fond memories of Mehroo and the good works she did. My family and I wanted to give something to the townspeople which would honour Mehroo and recognise all that she did. We have therefore given this statue to bring pleasure to residents and visitors and do so in loving memory of our wonderful sister Mehroo.

Mehroo was probably best known for her work as President of the Friends of Harrogate but she had a wide-range of charitable interests including the Women of the North Association, the Harlow Friendship Club and the Harrogate International Festival and latterly she supported the restoration of her beloved Royal Hall.

Councillor Mrs Pat Jones, Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Cultural Services, said: It was a sad day on 12 July 2012 when Mehroo passed away as it brought to an end the family’s residential link with the town but thankfully not the memory of the Bomanji family nor their generosity to the people of Harrogate.

Mehroo was widowed terribly young when her new husband, a member of a distinguished Parsee family, became a tragic victim of the London black-out in 1944. She returned to live permanently in Harrogate where she supported her mother in all her good works. I was extremely pleased on behalf of the council to accept this bequest for public enjoyment and so that Mehroo will never be forgotten.

The statue will be formally received by Councillor Mike Newby, Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate.

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