Posts Tagged ‘statues and memorials in London’

The original West Gate at Twickenham rugby stadium contains a number of memorials.

The Lion, one of a pair, originally stood in front of the Lion Brewery on the South Bank of the Thames near Waterloo Station. The Brewery was demolished in 1948 to make way for the Royal Festival Hall. This lion was in storage until 1972, when it was presented to the RFU on their centenary by the London Council. The other lion of the pair can be seen on Westminster Bridge.

On top of the gates are 4 statues by Gerald Olgivie-Laing from the 1990’s representing 4 rugby players

There is also a memorial to George Rowland-Hill, President of the Rugby Football Union at the beginning of the last century.

The Rose and Poppy gates by Harry Gray were installed in 2016 as a memorial to all rugby players who have died in conflicts since the foundation of the Union in 1871. It has the Rose, the emblem of the England Rugby team, and poppies of remembrance on it.

John Franklin was born in Lincolnshire in 1786. He went to sea in a merchantman at the age of 12 and in 1800, his father secured him a position aboard the 64 gun Royal Navy vessel HMS Polyphemus. He saw action at the battle of Copenhagen. Transferring to HMS Investigator he was appointed midshipman and travelled to Australia. He returned to Europe to serve on HMS Beelerophon at the battle of Trafalger. 

In 1819 Franklin was chosen to lead an expedition overland from Hudson Bay charting the coast of Canada. He returned to England in 1823 but was soon back in Canada leading expeditions to chart the Mackenzie River and surrounding areas returning each year to winter at Fort Franklin. In Summer of 1827 he returned to England.

He was knighted in April 1829 for his expeditionary work. He also recieved awards from France and Greece in recognition of his work. In 1836 he was appointed Lieutenant Governer of Van Dieman’s Land (modern day Tasmania) and he served until 1843. In 1845 it was decided to send another expedition to complete the mapping of arctic waters and Franklin was named as the Commander. Two ships and 129 men set off from Greenland and were last seen by a whaler on 26 July.

After 3 years a search party was dispatched. Eventually, they found some evidence of the expedition on Beechey Island where 3 graves were found. Although no evidence of survivors was found, Franklin, in absentia, was promoted to Rear-Admiral. A note found on Beechey Island reported that Franklin had died there in 1847. It was not until 1854 that John Rae, an explorer learnt from Inuit Indians that the two ships had become ice-bound and that the men had tried to escape on foot, but had succumbed to the cold. The wrecks of the two ships were eventually found in 2014 and 2016.

Frederick Winsor was born in 1763 in the German principality of  Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel. In his 30s, he relocated to London to further his interests in technology. In 1807 he started a gas-works and lit one side of Pall Mall with gas lamps. Having been refused a charter for his gas company he relocated to Paris, but he could not repeat the success he had achieved in London. He died in Paris in 1830.

The company Winsor founded, The Gas Light and Coke Company (GLCC), was granted a charter shortly after Winsor left for Paris and continued to operate. It took over many other local gas supply companies during the next 120 years. In 1949 it was nationalised and became a major part of one of the 12 new Regional Gas Boards, which would eventually become British Gas.

A plaque in Pall Mall commemorates that first large-scale use of gas illumination of a road in 1807. Another memorial to him is Winsor Road in Beckton in east London, a road that led to the Beckton Gasworks, the largest such plant in the world for many years, which was opened by the GLCC in 1870. It ceased operation in 1969 when the requirement for manufactured Gas had been replaced by Natural Gas supplies.


Brunel was born in Portsmouth in April 1806, the son of the French Civil Engineer Sir Marc Isambard Brunel and his English Wife, Sophia Kingdom. The family moved to London in 1808. His father taught the young Isambard, technical drawing, geometry, French and a basic understanding of engineering before he went to boarding school in Hove at the age of 10. At the age of 14, he spent time at the University of Caen and then studied in Paris until he was 16.

Brunel first post was as an assistant engineer working on a tunnel under the River Thames between Rotherhithe and Wapping. Following a flooding incident in 1828, in which Brunel was seriously injured, the project was put on hold. Some years later it was completed and from 1865 it was used as part of the Underground Railway Network. It is still possible today to travel through the tunnel which today forms part of the East London line.

Thames Tunnel. By Dogrando (

Recovering from his injuries, Brunel submitted plans for a bridge to cross the Avon Gorge at Clifton in Bristol and his design won. Work started in 1831, but the project was soon hampered by lack of investment and work was not recommenced until 1862 (3 years after Brunel’s death) and finally finished two years later.

Clifton Suspension Bridge. By Pablo Fernandez (

Brunel is perhaps best known for his involvement with The Great Western Railway (GWR), for whom he designed stations, tunnels and bridges. He was responsible for the building of the first railway between London and Bristol which opened in 1854. He used a Broad Guage (7ft 1/4″) for his railway because he believed it gave passengers a smoother ride. Unfortunately, none of the other railway companies agreed and used Standard gauge (4ft 81/2″). This meant that the Great Western was isolated and couldn’t run trains over track belonging to other companies. The Broad Guage was eventually replaced on the GWR after Brunel’s death.


Brunel suffered a stroke in September 1859 and died shortly afterwards. In his lifetime, he had designed bridges, railways, tunnels, ships and even a hospital for use during the Crimea war. In a poll conducted in 2002, Brunel was named as No2 in the top 100 Greatest Britons, being beaten only by Sir Winston Churchill. The statue is in the Temple in the City of London.

This lovely bronze statue is of two young lovers in an embrace. It is by George Ehrlich and is found in Festival Gardens, Cannon St.

This sculpture is found in Whittington Gardens in the city of London. It was presented to the city of London as one of a pair in 2005 by the President of Italy. They were originally sculpted by Cambellotti in 1924. It depicts a herdsman on horseback.

The Monument is located close to London Bridge and commemorates the Great Fire of London, which began on 2nd September 1666 and burnt for 5 days before it was eventually stopped, in the process destroying 13200 houses, St Paul’s Cathedral and 87 other churches.

The Monument was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke and was erected between 1671 and 1677 on the site of St Margaret fish St which had been destroyed in the fire. It is 62m tall and stands 62m from the site of Thomas Farriner’s bakers shop in Pudding Lane, where the fire started. There are over 300 steps from ground level to the observation cage near the top, which gives a good view over London.


William Tyndale was born in Gloucestershire in 1494. He attended Oxford University and obtained a first degree in 1512 and his master’s degree 3 years later. He began studying Theology. In 1517 he moved from Oxford to Cambridge where he remained until 1521. He then took up a post as chaplain and tutor to a family in Gloucestershire, but after 2 years left to travel to London seeking permission to translate the Latin Bible into English. Finding no support in England for his project, he travelled to Wittenberg in Germany where he began working on the translation. The first copies were printed in Antwerp and Worms in 1526 and some of these found their way back to England. Bishop Tunstall obtained some copies and promptly burnt them, although this proved to be a controversial action even amongst those who opposed the translation from Latin. In 1529, Cardinal Wolsey declared that Tyndale was a heretic and the following year Tyndale wrote an essay opposing the annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Infuriated, Henry petitioned the Emporer Charles V for Tyndale’s arrest and extradition. Tyndale was eventually arrested in 1535 and put on trial at Vilvoorde near Brussels on a charge of Heresy. It is interesting to note that one person who urged the court for clemency was Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s chief minister.  Tyndale was found guilty and sentenced to execution. His last words were reported as “Lord, open the eyes of the King of England”. By 1540, Henry had commisioned the production of ‘The Great Bible’ an English language translation to be used in all churches in the new Church of England. Its core source was Tyndale’s translation.

This Bronze statue of Tyndale was erected in Victoria Embankment Gardens in 1884. Beside Tyndale is an open Bible resting on a printing press.


The National Submarine War Memorial is situated on the Victoria Embankment. It was unveiled in 1922 to commemorate the submariners lost in WWI. In November 1959, a further list was added to commemorate those lost in WWII and a third panel was added in 1992 on the 70th anniversary of the original unveiling.


Plaque marking the site of Whittington’s House in College Hill

Sir Richard Whittington (1354-1423) was a merchant and Politician. He was a 4-time Lord Mayor of London, a Member of Parliament and Sheriff of London. In his life, he sought to improve conditions for those living in London, financing drainage projects and hospital wards. Whittington also provided finance for a 128 seater public toilet on the banks of the Thames known as Whittington’s Longhouse. His bequest was used to rebuild Newgate Prison, build the Guildhall Library and carry out repairs to St Bartholomew’s Hospital. The remainder was used to found a charity which is still in operation today.

By Alex Hogg and Co, after Guillaume Philippe Benoist – From “History of the Memorable Sir Richard Whittington”, in The New Wonderful Museum, and Extraordinary Magazine[2], volume vol. 3, Alex. Hogg & Co., 1805, page 1420 OCLC:43172669., Public Domain,


Sir Richard Whittington’s House in 1803. This file is from the Mechanical Curator collection, released to Flickr Commons by the British Library. Public Domain,


He was also the basis for the folk-tale Dick Whittington, who came to London to find his fortune. The real Whittington was born in Gloucestershire and being a younger son was sent to London to learn his trade as a Mercer. He became very successful and amassed a large fortune which enabled him to lend money to the King. But this is about as far as the folk-tale and the real story compare. Pictures of him with a cat come from much later periods.

He is buried in St Michael Paternoster Royal in the city (see )


Plaque on the wall of St Michael Paternoster Royal