Mathews Unveiled

On 6 July 2024 AC members gathered in Chamonix for the unveiling of the newly restored Mathews Monument. The monument, originally dedicated to AC founder member and former Club president CE Mathews, has been relocated to a position of greater prominence near the entrance of the Couttet Park and rededicated in recognition of the enduring relationship between the town of Chamonix and the Alpine Club.

The AC's Honorary Keeper of Monuments, Charlie Burbridge takes up the story:

After four years of effort the day had finally come to unveil the relocated, restored and rededicated Mathews Monument in Chamonix. We had hoped for poor conditions in the mountains and a patch of sun over the Couttets to encourage a crowd. We were blessed instead by biblical quantities of rain. I'm pleased to report that this did little to dampen the enthusiasm of those who attended to witness our President and the Mayor of Chamonix remove the covers on the new signs next to the wonderfully restored monument.

AC President Simon Richardson, Claude Marin and AC Keeper of Monuments Charlie Burbridge stand
with the new bilingual monument information boards

The Mayor, in good mountaineering tradition, had prepared a wet weather plan and we decanted to the town hall for drinks. Representatives of Chamonix, the Chamonix Guides, the British Mountain Guides and the Alpine Club gathered to listen to a fine speech by the Mayor followed by a response from AC President Simon Richardson.

The monument represents a great deal for the AC, Chamonix and British climbers generally. It is a testament to Charles Mathews' humility that he would be the last person to whom he thought a monument should be raised. I hope he would be pleased to see it resurrected in recognition of the fraternity so aptly described in its inscription:

"Mountain Lovers
To a mountain lover
The members of the alpine fraternity
To one of its members
The brother to one of those who
Assisted the founder
Friends to a very sure friend
He went away, wept by all"

The information signs are lovely. They describe succinctly the genesis of the monument and have a picture of Mathews which has caused some onlookers to describe him as 'smoulderingly handsome'. 

The monument in its new site - Photo: Town of Chamonix

It is interesting to see the vast amount of work that has been completed on the new Couttets hotel complex and to realise how the monument could so easily have been lost forever in the renovations. Instead, it may stand for several more hundred years to represent the enduring affection with which British climbers hold this magnificent range of mountains and the town and people of Chamonix.

Finally, and most importantly, we should acknowledge the tireless work and determination of Claire Burnett and Claude Marin without whom none of this would have been possible.