Posts Tagged ‘statues and memorials in London’


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



King George the fourth succeeded his father, George III, in January 1820 although he had filled the role of monarch since 1811 due to his father’s illness.

George was known for an extravagant lifestyle and was known as a patron of the arts. He was responsible for the building of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, remodelling Buckingham Palace and he rebuilt Windsor Castle. Although said to be a charming and cultured man, his lifestyle made him unpopular with his subjects. He had one child, Princess Charlotte, but she died in 1817, aged 21. On his death in 1830, he was succeeded by his younger brother William.

This statue stands on a plinth in Trafalgar Square. It is by Sir Francis Chantrey and was originally intended to stand on the top of the Marble Arch. It was erected in 1844.

There is a house in Brook St in central London that carries two Blue memorial plaques. Both are dedicated to master musicians, although of very different genres and ages.

George Friderick Handel lived at 23 Brook St for over 40 years (1719-1759) and wrote most of his famous compositions here including ‘Messiah’ and ‘Water Music’.

Rock Guitarist and songwriter Jimi Hendrix moved in with his girlfriend Kathy, who lived in a flat in the now converted building, in 1968. By this time he was one of the biggest hits in rock music. He lived here until March the following year when he left to tour the USA. He was only to return for brief spells in the year that followed. He died in a hotel in Notting Hill in September 1970, aged 27.

23 Brook St now houses the Handel House Museum. The rooms in which Hendrix and his girlfriend lived are used by the museum as offices, although they were opened up to the public and used to display a temporary exhibition in 2010 to mark the 40th anniversary of Hendrix death.

A question that is often asked is did Hendrix know about the Handel connection? Reports suggest that he did not until he moved in, but was so intrigued by it that he scoured local record shops in the search for recordings of Handel’s compositions and some even claim that there are elements of Handel’s music in Hendrix’s later compositions.




This statue stands above the main entrance to the well-known London store Selfridges situated in Oxford Street. It depicts the Queen of Time and was created by Gilbert Bayes. It was unveiled in 1931.

This sculpture which stands at the entrance to the Museum of London in the Barbican is entitled ‘Union’ It depicts a horse with two huge discs one on either side of it. It is by Christopher Le Brun.

A quote from the artist reads:
“When you talk about horses and riders in my work it is important to me that they are not seen as real…I think of it as an entrance or key to the place that I want to enter. It’s as if ‘the horse’ enables the journey rather than providing the final subject.” (translations welcome as I have no idea what he is  trying to say)


I might not understand the meaning behind the sculpture but it is certainly an impressive figure as you approach the museum.


This ancient Egyptian obelisk which stands on the banks of the River Thames in Central London was a gift to the United Kingdom from the rulers of Egypt to commemorate Lord Nelson’s victory at the Battle of the Nile in 1798. Although it was presented in 1829 it remained in Alexandria until it was finally shipped to the UK in 1877 and erected on the Embankment.

The name is historically inaccurate as the obelisk dates from the reign of Tutmoses III around 1450 BCE and so was already 1350 years old at the time of Queen Cleopatra. It had originally been erected in the city of Heliopolis but had been removed to Alexandria in 12 BCE by the Roman Emporer Augustus.

There is another story commemorated on the monument and that is of the obelisk’s journey from Eygpt to London. There had been much discussion as to how it was to be transported and eventually a special barge was built to hold the obelisk. This was named ‘The Cleopatra’. It was to be towed by a steamboat ‘The Olga’ all the way from Eygpt to the UK. All went well until the boats reached the Bay of Biscay when it appeared the Cleopatra was going to sink. Fearful for the lives of the crew on board the barge, the captain of the Olga launched a boat to take them off. However, the sea was too rough and the boat capsized with the loss of 6 lives. The captain then managed to bring the Olga alongside the Cleopatra and the crew boarded the steamship. He then cut the cable and left the Cleopatra to its fate. 5 days later the Cleopatra was discovered by another ship, still afloat, and towed to the port of Ferrol in Spain. Another steam tug was sent from the UK and the obelisk finally arrived in London in January 1878. The names of the seaman who lost their lives during the journey are recorded on a plaque at the base of the obelisk



Peter Scott was born in September 1909. His father, the Antartic explorer, Robert Falcon Scott, died when he was only 2 years old. In his last letter to his wife, he encouraged her to get his son interested in natural history. Peter Scott read natural sciences at Cambridge but after graduation took up his interest in painting and had his first exhibition in London in 1933. He was also an excellent sailor and represented Great Britain at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, where he took a bronze medal. He served in the Royal Navy during world war II seeing service in the North Atlantic and the English Channel and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Using his artistic talent, he designed a new camouflage scheme for ships and by 1941 this had been adopted by the Navy. For this, he was awarded an MBE. Leaving the Navy in 1945 he stood for parliament but was not elected.


In 1947 he founded the Severn Wildfowl Trust near Slimbridge (now the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust) and in 1951 he was a co-founder of the World Wildlife Fund. At Slimbridge in the 1950’s, he made his name in conservation by masterminding the Nene project which ensured the survival of the Hawaiin Goose which was on the brink of extinction in its natural habitat. From 1955 until 1981 he appeared regularly on the BBC programme Look as well as doing other documentaries. He continued to be an acclaimed wildlife artist and was the founder of the society of wildlife artists.

Peter Scott died, aged 79, in August 1989. One of his biggest wishes was to have a Wetland Centre in an urban environment and this was achieved when the London Wetland centre opened in 2000. This statue of Peter Scott stands at the entrance to the centre as a memorial to the man, his life work and his legacy.


In February 1810, the Peninsular war was not going well. France controlled most of Spain and the Spanish government had retreated to the port city of Cadiz. In an effort to complete their surrender, the French forces under Marshalls Soult and Victor besieged the city with 70,000 men. Inside the city at the time were 2,000 Spanish troops. Attempts were made, without success,  to lift the siege in October 1810 and again the following year. The siege lasted for over 2 years but did not succeed as the Fench were unable to block off the sea route and the allied forces of Spain, Britain and Portugal were able to supply and reinforce the city by sea. In July 1812 with Wellington’s victory at Salamanca and subsequent capture of Madrid, Marshall Sault realised he was in grave danger of being cut off from the rest of the French army in Spain. He ordered a retreat from Cadiz, leaven behind a number of siege guns.


One of these guns was presented by the Spanish Government to the British Naval Commander with a request that it be presented to the Prince Regent and set up as a memorial to the Victory at Salamanca and the lifting of the siege. It arrived in London and went on public display in August 1816. It was an impressive and terrifying piece of sculpture, although reports at the time described it as an ineffective weapon, inaccurate in firing and causing very few casualties during the siege.

The inscription reads:

To commemorate the Raising of the Siege of Cadiz, in consequence of the Glorious Victory obtained by the Duke of Wellington over the French at Salamanca, on the 22d July 1812: This Mortar, cast for the destruction of that Great Port, with Powers surpassing all others, and abandoned by the Besiegers on their Retreat, was presented as a token of respect and gratitude by the Spanish Nation, To his Royal Highness the Prince Regent.

It can be seen today on Horse Guards Parade.


John Donne, a poet, writer and cleric, was born in London in January 1572 as the middle of 6 children into a Roman Catholic family, at a time when the practice of the Roman rite was outlawed in England. At 11 he attended Hart Hall (now Hertford College) in Oxford and at 14 entered Cambridge University. He completed his studies but did not graduate as he was unwilling to take the oath of supremacy. Following Cambridge, he entered the Inns of court in London. In 1593 his brother Henry was arrested for hiding a Roman Catholic priest and whilst in prison contracted bubonic plague and died. His death seems to have had a profound effect on John regarding his Roman Catholic beliefs. In 1597 John was appointed as secretary to Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. During this time he met and fell in love with Anne More, Sir Thomas’ niece and in 1601 they wed in secret as both Sir Thomas and Anne’s father opposed the wedding. John found himself briefly in Fleet prison and although he was released after a short while, his career was in ruins. During this time, he scraped a living as a lawyer and a writer of poetry and anti-catholic pamphlets. Anne and John were reconciled with her family in 1609 and the following year he acquired a patron in Sir Robert Drury, who gave them a house in Drury Lane. In 1615, at the suggestion of James I, he was ordained priest in the Church of England and was appointed a Royal Chaplain. He finally received a degree from Cambridge University. However, in 1617 Anne died, having borne John 12 children in 16 years of marriage. In 1621 he was appointed Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, a position he held until his death in 1631. He had become famous for his preaching and his poetry and hymn writing. He was buried in St Pual’s and a memorial was set up in the churchyard. This survived the Great Fire of 1666, unlike the Cathedral. but was moved inside once the new St Pauls was finished. In 2012 this bust of John Donne by Nigel Boonham was unveiled in the churchyard.

This memorial is to the members of the Camel Corps of the British Army who died in service. It is situated in Victoria Embankment Gardens, near Charing Cross Station.

The Camel Corps was formed in 1916 and in its short existence, it saw service in Egypt, Sinai and Palestine. The memorial records that the men of the Corps came from a number of Commonwealth Countries including the UK, Australia, New Zealand and India. It was disbanded in 1919. The memorial is by Major Cecil Brown, himself an officer in the Camel Corps and was unveiled in 1921.