Wote Street Willy - Atlas Obscura

Wote Street Willy

A sincere and thoughtful art installation, mistaken by many as a statue of a penis. 


The largest statue of a penis on public display in Britain, this nine-foot-tall granite stone sculpture has been delighting Basingstoke residents for 25 years. Beneath the superficial and boisterous humor, however, the sculpture has a deeper artistic intention. 

Erected in 1994, the Wote Street Willy, formally known as Church Stone, is an artwork that portrays a mother protectively crouching over her child in a prayer. Sculptor Michael Peglar intended the piece to provide calm amidst the town center’s hustle and bustle.  

Commissioned by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council for £25,000, Peglar incorporates carefully designed symbolic features that contribute to its artistic significance. As a symbol of the town’s proximity to the Roman settlement of Silchester, the artwork can be seen as an amphora water jug from that period despite its phallic shape. Peglar described the piece as “a monumental piece of granite that forces people to think about their own mortality and spirituality—a calming, tranquil, static image.”

Due to its accidental resemblance to the male genitalia, the sculpture caused controversy and prompted discussions within the community. Unfazed, Peglar acknowledges the local nickname for his sculpture and emphasizes that interpretations of art are subjective and personal. He stated, “I don’t have any problem with the name Wote Street Willy—I think it’s nice. It shows the people of the town have adopted the sculpture as their own.”

Despite the humourous reception, in 2002, the sculpture faced the prospect of relocation when the deputy leader of the council at the time suggested it clashed with the image of Festival Place. Fortunately, the proposal was never executed, and the sculpture remains a jovial but prominent artwork on Wote Street. 

Know Before You Go

On Google Maps it is known as the Church Stone. When you exit Festival Place onto Wote Street, it is just ahead. The sculpture is in the middle of the street next to the nightclub Plush. 

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