The Oratory in Liverpool is perched on the edge of what is now St James’ Gardens; a cemetery that was designed by John Foster Jnr. Foster also designed the Neo-classical Oratory in 1829 for the use of funeral services. After the cemetery closed, it fell into disuse, but is now a museum that contains some of the finest Neo-classical style sculptures and reliefs in Liverpool.
One of the most striking statues in the Oratory is that of William Ewart (1798-1869), who was the son of the Liverpool Freemason and Broker William Ewart, who was a close friend of John Gladstone, who resided in nearby Rodney Street. He was born in Liverpool, educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, and subsequently became an MP for Liverpool, Wigan and Dumfries Burghs. He was a Liberal, a strong advocate for the abolition of capital punishment, and was a close friend of the writer Elizabeth Gaskell.