THE REVIEW'S back page appeal for anyone who had ever

seen Westbury Court Garden's statue of Neptune holding a trident sparked a flurry of calls – but as yet no hard evidence.

And judging by what we've been told, the answer to the mystery is – sometimes he is, sometimes he isn't!

The evidence was needed in order to give back the three-pronged spear which Ian Bendall, of Blisstors farm, Bream, believes he should be holding.

Ian got in touch with Westbury head gardener Richard Bentley to ask if it could be replaced and Richard passed the message on to the National Trust – who said they would put the spear back if they had definite proof it ever existed.

Ian said he is sure he has seen Neptune, alias Poseidon, with a spear, but this was 40 or 50 years ago.

The nearest thing to proof we have is a picture in an old book, Historic Gardens of England, first published in 1938, which belongs to Mrs Rose Howells of Bream. Unfortunately, it's a rear view of the old gent!

"But he's definitely holding something," said Mrs Howells. "If you look over the top of his right shoulder, you can see the tip of something just above his hand.

"My son Patrick, who knows a lot about art, says he has seen statues of Neptune holding the spear up the other way, prongs down, so that he appears to be spearing the sea monster, or in this case a dolphin.

"Another thing it might be is the tip of a conch shell – I have seen Neptune figures with a shell."

On the other hand Mrs Angela Cornwell of Little Marston Farm, Ruardean, has an old copy of Country Life, published in 1905, which carries contemporary and even older pictures – including a lithograph from 1704 – showing the gardens.

And in none of them does Nep carry anything at all!

"They are beautiful pictures, showing the gardens were just as wonderful then as they are today," said Mrs Cornwell.

She said she also used to travel past them daily during the fifties and as far as she could remember there was no spear then.

So the hunt goes on – and we would be very glad to hear from anyone who can help to put some point back in Poseidon's life.