diamond geezer

 Sunday, May 12, 2019

London's full of statues, many of kings and queens. But can we compile a list featuring every monarch from William the Conqueror to Queen Elizabeth II? No, obviously we can't, but how many can we find?

Norman/Plantagenet/Lancaster/York (1066-1485)

As it turns out, the Middle Ages hardly get a look in. King John appears in Egham and Henry VI in Eton, but they're outside London so they don't count. The sole big winner is Richard the Lionheart who gets pride of place in Old Palace Yard outside the Palace of Westminster (pictured). A useful place to park your Mini, assuming you've got a security pass.

Tudor (1485-1603)

Henry VII: Oddly, no.
Henry VIII: Oddly, almost no. Our most famous Tudor king's sole London statue is a small figure amid the gate at the entrance to St Bartholomew's Hospital, Smithfield.
Edward VI: ...whereas Henry's sickly son has a proper statue outside the entrance to the south wing of St Thomas' Hospital, courtesy of him being king when the hospital was founded (pictured). Conveniently located for M&S Simply Food.
Lady Jane Grey: No.
Mary I: Also no, which goes to show how hated Catholics were in the centuries after Mary's death.
Elizabeth I: One statue from her reign survives, originally located at the foot of Ludgate Hill, now tucked into a niche on the wall of St Dunstan’s in the West on Fleet Street. Here's some Pathé newsreel of the statue following its restoration in 1928.

Stuart (1603-1715)

James I: He appears on Temple Bar, but then so do Charles I and Charles II, so this isn't especially special.
Charles I: London's first equestrian statue, placed on the site of the original Charing Cross in 1675, is famous as the point from which all distances to London are measured.
Oliver Cromwell: Not a king, obviously, but merits a very prominent statue in Old Palace Yard
Charles II: A heavily weathered statue, dating back to 1681, can be found in the centre of Soho Square (which was originally called King Square).
James II: A bronze statue of King James, dressed as a Roman emperor, stands beside the entrance to the National Gallery at the top end of Trafalgar Square. Quite near the hovering Yodas.
William III and Mary II: William's on horseback in the centre of St James's Square (pictured). His wife is ignored.
Queen Anne: Anne's most prominent statue is railinged off in the courtyard in front of St Paul's Cathedral, facing down Ludgate Hill.

Hanover (1715-1901)

George I: London's sole statue to this German-speaking king is perched atop the steeple at St George's church in Bloomsbury. Bring binoculars.
George II: Although his statue in Golden Square, Soho, looks like stone it's actually lead painted white (pictured). It was relocated here from Cannons House in Stanmore.
George III: A bronze equestrian statue of our longest-reigning king stands on a traffic island at the junction of Haymarket with Pall Mall East and Cockspur Street.
George IV: This equestrian statue was meant to go on top of Marble Arch but was placed 'temporarily' on one of the plinths in Trafalgar Square, and has been there ever since.
William IV: Oddly you have to go all the way to Greenwich, outside the National Maritime Museum, to find a statue of the last Hanoverian king.
Victoria: There are more statues of Queen Victoria in London than any other monarch. The most dazzling is probably her marble depiction in coronation robes outside Kensington Palace.

Saxe-Coburg Gotha/Windsor (1901-)

Edward VII: If you don't fancy going all the way to Tooting, try Waterloo Place off Pall Mall, where Eddie is the focus of a cluster of famous explorers.
George V: The Queen's grandfather is in a prominent position round the back of Westminster Abbey facing towards the Palace of Westminster (pictured, left).
Edward VIII: Does not appear. Unsurprisingly.
George VI: King George (and the Queen Mum) face The Mall above a set of steps decorated with unusual Blitz/racing/corgi bronze reliefs (pictured, right).
Elizabeth II: London doesn't go in for statues of living royalty, but it's assumed that the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square is being kept vacant for a statue of Her Maj after she croaks.

n.b. I've restricted myself to one statue each. Other statues may exist. Yes, I know where they are. Wikipedia has a very comprehensive list.

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