Archive for March 23, 2015


John Hanning Speke was an army officer who in December 1856 joined the expedition led by Richard Burton to find the source of the Nile. 19 months later he set out on his own expedition and discovered Lake Victoria, which he believed, correctly, to be the source of the Nile. However Burton rejected his discovery and so he set out on another expedition to prove his theory. On his return to Britain his conclusions were disputed by a number of leading figures including Burton. In 1864 a meeting was set up at which each side could put forward its arguments, but on the day before Speke was killed by his own gun whilst shooting. Some claim it was an accident, others that he committed suicide.


Subsequent expeditions proved that Speke had been correct. In 1866 a memorial was commissioned by the Royal Geographic society, which had financed his expeditions. It is simple in nature and is by the sculptor Phillip Hardwick. It stands at the northern end of Kensington Gardens