Golden Gate Memorial Arch
This Victorian gate contains cryptic inscriptions in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.
This Victorian arch was built by William Hatfield de Rodes in memory of his wife Sophia Felicité de Rodes (her first name is also written as “Sophie” and “Sophy”), who died in 1869. An elaborate, golden mosaic stretches across the gritstone structure. But the colorful tilework isn’t what catches people’s eyes.
The structure is also adorned with various messages written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. Locally, the arch is often called the MIZPAH gate, a reference to the Hebrew inscription within the mosaic. This word symbolizes a place of sanctuary and of hopeful anticipation.
The Greek inscription is a possible nod to the first name of the departed wife, “SOPHIA MAKARIA” with the words on either side of the keystone. It translates to “dearest wisdom.” The Latin inscription is written diagonally in four sections and reads “FELIX/OLIM/FELICITATIS/MEMOR.” This is perhaps a play on Sophia’s second name, Felicité. It roughly translates to “once happy man mindful of last happiness.”
The arch is now the entrance to a tranquil war memorial garden; a remarkable example of recycling old architecture for new purposes. The garden was created in 1951 behind the gate to honor those who perished during both World Wars. In 2017, a memorial to Fred Greaves, Derbyshire’s first recipient of the Victoria Cross, was erected in the garden to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the award.
Know Before You Go
The arch is on High Street, so you can walk by at any time. It's right next to the War Memorial bus stop, which services the 53, 53a, 73, 74, 77, and T3 busses.
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