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.
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 an awesome statue in Kensington Park of Prince Albert. I like it, but many Londoners think it is one of the most tacky things in London ;)
The Albert Memorial was Queen Victoria's tribute to her late husband, who died of typhoid in 1861, only 42 years old. The monument was opened in 1872 and is 53 m tall with a 4 m high gilden statue which depicts Albert holding a catalogue of the 1851 Great Exhibition. Prince Albert is best known (well, apart from being Queen Victoria's husband) for his connection and support to the "Great Exhibition of the World of Industry of All Nations" which was held in Hyde Park in 1851 and 6 million Britons visited.
Prince Albert is also the founder of what is called Albertopolis (:D) - free cultural education to the public - or all the free-entrance musuems in this area, Albert and Victoria Museum, The Natural history Museum etc. (see my tips on these museums) - and we can be grateful to him for that as these museums are awesome.
At the end of the steps leading to the statue on each corner are sculptures of Asia, America, Europe and Africa.
Opposite the statue on the other side of Kensington road is the beautiful Royal Albert Hall, a concert hall which was built in honour of Prince Albert and opened in 1871 by Queen Victoria. I have never been to a concert in Royal Albert Hall, but the building itself is so awesome that for me it is enough just to stand outside and admire it (simple pleasures).
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.
Peter Pan is located to the north of the Serpentine Bridge in Kensington Gardens. Perhaps because the parks are so huge or perhaps because we went out without our guide book it took us a bit of searching to find Peter Pan but once we did we were very impressed.. I have heard of this statue for many years and it is a beauty. The details and craftsmanship are outstanding. Children will love to see him and all of us children that had to grow up will have to smile. This statue was commissioned in 1912 by J.M Barrie (Peters creator). The statue is on the spot where Peter Pan enters Kensington Gardens to get to his home on Serpentine Island. The sculpture was created by George Frampton and is made of bronze. There is so much detail please take the time to really look at it. I have included a link that gives views of the statue from diffrent angles and describes some of what you see.
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.
This gorgeous stone arch designed as an entrance to Buckingham Palace Commissioned by George IV, this splendid London landmark was originally designed in 1825 by the architect Burton, as a grand outer entrance to Buckingham Palace. Later, in 1882, the arch was moved to its present place. A statue of the Duke of Wellington on horseback was the first work of art to crown it, but its was too massive and was soon replaced by the present sculpture - the angel of peace descending on the chariot of war.
The arch is currently home to a fascinating display - Lived in London: Celebration of Blue Plaques. This exhibition represent the history of Blue Plaques from 1866 to the present day.
I came upon this statue whilst compiling the 2012 VT London Treasure Hunt and it initially brought back vague memories of something I vaguely remembered from school. Ernest Bevin, now who was he? Something to do with politics and unions as I recalled. Well, a quick look at the plaque on this statue jogged the memory a little and a bit of research has brought it all back to me. If you are not aware of Mr. Bevin, let me give you a quick potted history.
Born in the late 19th century and lacking much in the way of formal education, he started work as a labourer, then a lorry driver and eventually a dock worker for which he is probably most famous. By 1914 he was National Organiser of the Dockworkers Union and subsequently one of the original leaders of the Transport and General Workers Union. After that, Bevin made the quite common step of moving from union activity to politics and became a Labour MP. although he was not in that position in 1940 when he was asked to join the coalition government brought togetehr in the face of war with Nazi Germany. A tricky position this, solved by typical British pragmatism, whereby he was was returned unoppsed as member for Wandsworth Central.
Bevin became famous during the war, being in charge of all the nation's labour resources and gave his name to the "Bevin Boys", potential military conscripts and conscientious objectors who were sent to the coalmines rather than into the aremd services. After the War, he was appointed Foreign Secretary and had a large role in the Palestinian situation which eventually led to the formation of the state of Israel.
In failing health, he accepted the position of Lord Privy Seal in March 1951 (a largely honorary post) and died in April 1951. I find it quite wonderful that just walking past this statue, one of many tens of thousands in london, led me to look all this up and learn about the man from my dim schoolday recollections. As they say, every day is a schoolday on VT!
As the photograph shows, this statue stands in the shadow of the magnificent Tower Bridge, and just outside the anything but magnificent Tower hotel, which offends me every time I see it. It is entitled "Girl with a Dolphin", made in 1973 by the renowned sculptor David Wynne.
I cannot tell you much about it but I do know that it has a "sister" sculpture entitled "Boy with a Dolphin" on Cheyne Walk in Chelsea. Apparently the sitter for the latter sculpture was his sadly demised son.
Wynne, despite having no formal art training, has worked with no lesser personages than the Beatles and the Queen!
Worth a look if you are passing that way and assuming you can negotiate the hordes of tourists who tend to congregate here.
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.
This was probably the most moving thing I saw in London. The silly thing is it wasn't historical about Kings or Queens, or Diana, it was the Animals in War Memorial. The words - They had no choice - was the thing that really got me going. I had tears in my eyes.
The inscrption reads - "Animals In War. This monument is dedicated to all the animals that served and died alongside British and allied forces in wars and campaigns throughout time. They had no choice."
The monument depicts all the animals that have been used by troops in wartime – horses, mules, dogs, elephants, camels, pigeons, canaries and even glow worms! It shows two life size mules struggling up the steps towards a gap in the wall, where behind that, a horse and dog gaze into the distance.
I only saw it while we were driving along towards Marble Arch, I wish I had have been quick enough to take a picture.
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.
The British and Commonwealth forces used many of thousands of animals in conflicts across the centuries and this Portland stone monument commemorates their use and in many cases sacrifices in the battles they were used in.
It was unveiled by HRH The Princess Royal in November 2004, the 90th anniversary of the start of World War I.
On the south side of Trinity Square in Trinity Square gardens is a memorial (1928) for all those who died at sea while on duty with the Merchant Navy and fishing fleets, who only have the sea as a grave. There are 2 memorials, the first is a vaulted corridor with plaques which list 12,000 names from the WWI, the second is a sunken semi-circular garden whose walls contain a list of 24,000 seamen who died during the WWII. Between the two memorials are two columns with statues of an officer and a seaman and between the two columns is an appropriate inscription.
It is rather a nice place to sit and admire the buildings and view that surround the square.
A very impressive monument that was planned in 1825 to commemorate Englands victories in the Napoleanic wars. It was designed to be an impressive gateway in to London from the west.
Now of course it stands in a very busy urgan area and is an isolated traffic island - traffic swirls around it but it is a small oasis in a busy area.
The arch is hollow inside and owned by English Heritage. There are 3 floors of exhibits that show the history of the arch and at the top good views can be had over Hyde Park, Green Prk and even in to the gardens of Buckingham Palace.
One side of the arch is actually a ventilation shaft for the Underground and so if you see smoke coming out of the top do not think the arch is on fire!
The Arch is open from 10.00 to 17.00 and it costs £3.90 (April 11) with concessions possible, to visit the arch.