This is a relatively recent and perhaps overdue addition to the many memorials of London.
This memorial/cenotaph to the Women of World War II was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II on 9 July, 2005 some 60 years after the end of World War II. The memorial, dedicated by Baroness Boothroyd, former Speaker of the House of Commons, commemorates the contribution of some 7 million women to the war effort, both in uniform and on the home front. Perhaps not well known, conscription for women began in 1941 and by 1943 nine out of 10 single women aged between 20 and 30 were working in factories, on the land or in the armed forces.
The memorial is very centrally placed just down from the Cenotaph on Whitehall and just outside Downing Street - on the former site of a statue of Sir Francis Drake which was removed and relocated to Greenwich.
The 22 feet high, bronze memorial was created by British sculptor, John W. Mills who incidentally also created the National Firefighters Memorial close to St Paul’s Cathedral.
The display of 17 uniforms or working clothes worn by women during the war reminds us of the hundreds of different jobs women undertook during World War II. Among the clothing displayed are uniforms as worn by the Women's Land Army, Women's Royal Naval Service, canteen ladies overalls, a nursing cape, a police overall and a welding mask.
Mills was was inspired after seeing a 1940s photograph of a cloakroom at a dance hall which he translated into the concept of women hanging up their uniforms and going back to their normal lives after the end of the war. Personally, I like the dignified anonymity of the discarded uniforms after the heroic endeavours of those who wore them.
Detractors (that seem to object to everything nowadays) have intimated that the memorial is more symbolic of a clothes rack where women hung up their clothes at the end of the war – returning them to the men that had done these jobs before the war – and returned to the kitchen sink. Others have criticised it for its absence of a actual women but, then again, there are neither women nor men portrayed on the main cenotaph a little further down the road towards Westminster.
The memorial was made possible due to the efforts of a fundraising trust headed up by Baroness Boothroyd, Dame Vera Lynn and the Princess Royal (Princess Anne). A significant part of the memorial’s cost was paid from Baroness Boothroyd’s winnings on “Who wants to be a millionaire” – a television quiz show.
In 1958 a rather scraggly bear from darkest Peru turned up at Paddington station with a battered suitcase and a label around his neck saying, "Please Look After This Bear. Thank you."
Paddington Bear is the fictional creation of former BBC radio engineer and cameraman Michael Bond.
Mr and Mrs Brown took up Paddington’s plight.
Mr. and Mrs. Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform. In fact, that was how he came to have such an unusual name for a bear for Paddington was the name of the station. (The opening lines of Bonds first book - "A Bear Called Paddington" and those recorded on the plaque of the Paddington Bear statue)
While Paddington is a fictional character he is based on a real bear which Bond found alone on Christmas Eve 1956 in a London store. Feeling sorry for the bear he bought it as a present for his wife. This bear was christened Paddington as the Bonds lived near Paddington Station at the time.
Bond wrote some stories about his new bear and in 1958 “A Bear called Paddington” was published. It is thought that the tag around Paddington’s neck was prompted by Bonds memory of children assembling, with tags around their necks, at various London stations during the Blitz for evacuation to safer parts of the country.
Since 1958 Paddington books have sold more than thirty-five million copies worldwide and have been translated into over forty languages.
The 2000 statue of Paddington Bear in the station is by British sculptor, Marcus Cornish and is based on original drawings by Peggy Fortnum, illustrator of the first Paddington book.
For those wishing to pick up a bear of their own at Paddington pop up the escalator beside the statue and you will find the Paddington Bear shop selling all sorts of Paddington bears and memorabilia including bronzes of the station statue.
Got to admit I got my first Paddington Bear from the station many years ago!
At the centre of Trafalgar square you will see Nelson's Column, which is guarded by four lion statues at its base.
Nelson's Column is a monument built to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The monument was constructed between 1840 and 1843 to a design by William Railton.
The pedestal is decorated with four bronze relief panels, each 5.5 m square, cast from captured French guns. They depict the Battle of Cape St Vincent, the Battle of the Nile, the Battle of Copenhagen and the Death of Nelson at Trafalgar.
Most tourists ignore this rather discrete monument on the south side of Trinity Square Gardens when after leaving Tower Hill Station they are heading towards the Tower of London.
Those who stop are surprised to learn that the Tower Hill Memorial commemorates men and women of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets who died in both World Wars and who have no known grave.
17000 seamen died in WW I and 32000 in WW II mostly by the German submarine warfare. Think of the supply convoys making their way to Russia around the North Cape.
The Tower Hill Memorial is divided in two sections. The First World War memorial, in front of the street, takes the form of a vaulted corridor with 12 bronze plaques engraved with 12000 names.
The larger section which approximates a circle is dedicated to those who died during World War II between 1939 and 1945 when 4786 merchant ships were lost. It is specifically for the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleet members who died at sea and have no known grave.
During my walk i was surprised to see the statue of St. Volodymyr, who ruled Ukraine from 980 to 1015. The statue was erected in 1888 by Ukrainians to celebrate the christianity which was introduced by this fellow in Ukraine centuries ago.
St Volodymyr inherited a vast land from his grandmother, St Olha and continued in her policies to unite her people with a common spirituality. He searched for a religion and was approached by Jewish representatives who encouraged him to promote Judism but upon asking where the country of the Jews was he was told that they were scattered all over the world, so this did not suit his purposes, so he took up Byzantine Christianity and so did his people. He was nicknamed Volodymyr the Wetter as he would baptise his own people himself.
In Bond Street there is a bronze sculpture of Winston Churchill, the former British Prime Minister, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, the American President - in deep conversation, sitting on a bench. They seem to have a good time.
The statue is called "Allies" and is a gift from the Members of the Bond Street Association to the City of Westminster and the people of London to commemorate 50 years of peace since WW2. There is a bronze plaque by the statue with the names of the members of the Bond Street Association.
"Allies" was made by Lawrence Holofcener, and unveiled on the 2nd of May 1996 by her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon.
The bench is a very popular photo spot, where people sit between Roosevelt and Churchill and have their photo taken. But the space between them is very narrow and I had problems standing up again, being kind of stuck between them. And it cannot be said about me that I am fat, although VT-member Benazar says I am fat on the inside ;) But I gather that people sit on their lap or knees, seeing how worn those parts of the statues are.
There is another plaque by the bench, laid on the 1st of May 1996 by her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, to commemorate the quatercentenary of the City of Westminster and the tercenterary of Bond Street (information from the plaque).
Bond Street is a very fashionable street in London, divided into Old Bond Street and New Bond street. New Bond Street is lined with stores such as Dior, Chanel, Armani, Gucci etc.
I have previously worked in the Covent Garden area and thought I knew it pretty well altohugh I haven't visited it recently. As I have mentioned in other tips, it is almost impossible to walk around this amazing city and not see something you haven't seen before and such was the case with this memorial which, as you can see, commeomorates Agatha Christie. I am not even going to precis her life here as she is probably the single most popular crime writer ever and is hugely famous word-wide.
The memorial is intended to be in the form of a leather-bound book and indeed this is appropriate as she is the largest selling novelist ever. It was designed by Ben Twiston-Davies and the location in the middle of what is dubbed "Theatreland" is appropriate as she was the first female ever to have three simultaneous Wes End productions of her plays. It was unveiled on 18th November, 2012, that being the 60th anniversary of the opening of her play The Mousetrap which still runs nearby and is the longest running stage production in the world. The records just don't stop when we talk about Miss Christie. I quite liked it and you really should stop for a look if you are in the area.
At Trinity Square Gardens at Tower Hill is the Tower Hill Memorial - raised in the remembrance for the marines and sailors who lost their lives in WWI and WW2.
The first memorial, where one can walk inside - is a memorial to the 12.000 marines and merchant sailors who lost their lives in WWI (1914-1918). On the memorial is written: "To the Glory of God and to the honour of twelve thousand of the merchant navy and fishing fleets, who have no grave but the sea". The names of the ships and sailors are written on the walls.
There is another memorial in the memory of those who lost their lives in WW2 (1939-1945): "The twenty four thousand of the navy and fishing fleets, whose names are honoured on the walls of this garden, gave their lives for their country and have no grave but the sea". This memorial is a semicircle with a garden in the middle. Written on the walls are the names of the fallen in alphabetical order under the name of the ship.
It is a very emotional experience visiting this memorial.
On this site there was the Tower Hill scaffold where more than 125 people were executed until 1747.
There is a series of beautiful statues in London by the noted sculptor, Sir David Wynne. I adore these statues - there is so much movement in them. "Planxty" introduced me to the first statue, the Girl with a Dolphin, and told me that there was also a Boy with a Dolphin in Chelsea. I so wanted to see it and I went on a quest to find more of Wynne´s statues.
These statues are scattered over London. The Girl with a Dolphin (1973) is located in front of the Tower Hotel on the north side of Thames by Tower Bridge. The Boy with a Dolphin (1974), on the other hand, is located down in Chelsea, on Chayne Walk.
I found the third one in Chelsea, Girl with Doves (1970), in Cadogan Place (South) Garden. There are other statues by Wynne in Cadogan Square Gardens, but that part of the garden was closed. I must go back there on my next visit to London. I love Cadogan Place Gardens for a special reason. When my father was a young man he studied in Chelsea, in Cadogan Gardens, so I love sitting in the park, thinking about him sitting there as well studying in the garden.
I have seen other statues by Sir David Wynne, they are impressive, f.ex. Embracing Lovers (1973) by Guildhall - but I am especially fond of his statues with movement, like those three. One gets caught in the movement of the statue and I started to feel like I was floating and swinging on the back of the dolphin.
Sir David Wynne was self-taught and he sculpted the bust of the heads of all the Beatles. One of his work is a bust of a very young looking Prince Charles (in the Guildhall Art Gallery, see my tip).
The Boy with a Dolphin is located in front of a Mercedes Benz dealer-ship, very unfortunate for taking good photos without having "Mercedes" written in them - or traffic lights. I would love to see this amazing statue located in a better place. There are two other casts of the Boy with a Dolphin - in Massachusetts and in Minnesota. David Wynne´s son, Roland David Amadeus Wynne (1964-1999), modelled for the statue. He died at the age of 35 and the statue is now dedicated to him - a memorial plaque is by the statue.
Henry Irving is best known as both a Victorian actor and the creative manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London. Although he was from somewhat humble beginnings, his commitment to his profession (occasionally verging on the perverse) led to his being knighted by Queen Victoria. He sought to bring to life both traditional English dramatic figures and those of the new anglophone theatre. His striving for artistic success and popular acceptance also led to a divergence of distinction between an actor's private and public lives. After he deserted his wife, who mocked his choice of profession, he continued to be legally wed to her while conducting affairs with other women. Despite this, he was popular and well-respected for his various roles and his direction of the Lyceum.
Waterloo Place is a square in which Regents Street meets the Mall. It is not a particularly noteworthy place, at least not from the point of view of vehicular and pedestrian traffic, but it does contain a number of statues and memorials. The foremost among these is the Duke of York Column and the Crimean War Memorial, the latter having been moved to accommodate other statues, including the one devoted to Florence Nightengale. The Place is an ideal place for pictures, as it is surrounded by imposing Imperial structures yet quiet enough to get just the right shot.
The Duke of York reminds me of countless sleazy pubs in Ottawa and Toronto, but evidently the actual Duke of York was, at one time, quite prominent in English politics. The Memorial, or Column, that commemorates one particular Duke’s contributions to the modernization of the British military, stands just at the end of Regent Street, where it meets the Mall. Erected in the 1830s, it is dedicated to the memory of Prince Ferdinand, son of King George III. The joke remains that the column is so tall because the Duke is fleeing his creditors. While it was once open to the public (there is a staircase inside the column and a viewing platform near the statue of the Duke), access to the platform has been restricted for decades.
The Crimean War is probably not one of the first wars that you will think of when contemplating the British Empire and its engagements in battles far flung from the shores of the United Kingdom, but at one point it obviously loomed large in the minds of Britons. The memorial to those who lost their lives in the war is found not far from St. James Park, at the end of Lower Regent Street. The memorial is made from the guns captured at Sevastopol, now in Ukraine, and features three Guardsmen, as well as an allegory of Victory, which was added in 1914, when the memorial was moved. The original work was cast in 1861.
The Temple Bar Memorial stands in the middle of Fleet Street opposite the Law Courts where Fleet Street becomes the Strand. Wren's Temple Bar used to be here and marks the boundary between the City and Westminster, where Queen Victoria and Prince of Wales stand at the bottom of the statue facing each side of the street and was placed there in 1880.
NOTE:- It is sometimes known as the Griffin Statue but it is actually the dragon associated with the Coat of arms.
Sometimes it can seem as if London specializes in artifacts and historical monuments that have been removed from former colonies. Perhaps we should just chock this up to the unfortunate marriage of colonial zeal and collector’s zeal that characterized the 19th century. Cleopatra’s Needle, the colloquial name of the Egyptian obelisk that stands tall on the banks of the Thames, across from the Victoria Embankment Gardens, after more than half a century of financial disagreements over how to bring it to England. It was a gift of the Egyptian regent Muhammad Ali, who awarded it to the United Kingdom in 1819 to mark her victory over Napoleon. It was not until the late 1870s that the funds were found to transport this monument to England, and on its way the ship carrying the obelisk became stranded and had to be rescued off the coast of Spain, adding to the costs and delays involved in its transportation to England. The obelisk was finally erected in its current location in 1878, and was flanked by two imitations of sphinxes. It was damaged in the blitzkrieg, and the city authorities decided not to repair the obelisk, as a constant reminder of the damage wreaked by the war. Even today, it is hard to escape the kitschy feeling associated with the monument. While the obelisk itself may be authentic, the faux sphinxes only heighten the sensation of this being a tribute to 19th century orientalist fantasies – not that that’s a bad thing.