KING William III is free to watch over Petersfield again as his statue on The Square has been officially “reopened”.
Around 70 people gathered around the landmark last Friday to celebrate his return after three months of repairs.
Mayor Cllr JC Cressey had the honour of cutting the ribbon after a history lesson from David Jeffery and speeches from the town’s district and county councillors.
Mr Jeffery talked about the political, religious and legal significance of the statue and its commissioning by Sir William Jolliffe, calling the piece “a work of art”.
He said: “We’re lucky to have in Petersfield this 18th century statue because it’s of national artistic importance.
“We ought to be privileged to have such a symbol in our presence.”
Cllr Cressey said he felt the statue “exemplified Petersfield” while county councillor Russell Oppenheimer spoke of his relief that the all-seeing William was back on his perch.
He said: “It’s like the Joni Mitchell song ‘You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ and that’s what it felt like when he was away. William has seen it all.”
Around a dozen members of the Portsmouth Lodge of the Orange Order attended because of the statue’s rarity and significance.
“We’re definitely happy to see it back and It means a lot to us,” said Ian Stacey, provincial grand master of the Grand Lodge of England.
“It represents our religious freedom, that’s what William brought to this country, religious freedom. And not just for us protestants.”
Hampshire County Council paid for the repairs to King Billy’s arm and ankle with Cllr Rob Mocatta highlighting the importance of funding heritage.
He said: “Putting money into history is of interest to all of us, especially as William will outlive us, as it makes sure Petersfield continues to have assets like this.”