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Victoria Memorial, London

This article is about the Victoria Memorial in London. For other memorials to Queen Victoria, see Victoria Memorial (disambiguation).

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The statue of Queen Victoria on the memorial in 2014
Location The Mall

51°30′6.65″N 00°08′26.34″W / 51.5018472°N 0.1406500°W / 51.5018472; -0.1406500Coordinates: 51°30′6.65″N 00°08′26.34″W / 51.5018472°N 0.1406500°W / 51.5018472; -0.1406500{{#coordinates:51|30|6.65|N|00|08|26.34|W|type:landmark |primary |name=

OS grid reference TQ291797
Area City of Westminster
Height 25 m[1]
Unveiled 16 May 1911
Built 1901 (memorial gardens) 1906–24 (monument)[2]
Restored bronzes – April 2011[3]
Sculptor Sir Thomas Brock
Architectural style(s) Beaux-Arts[2] / Edwardian Baroque
Governing body The Royal Parks
Listed Building – Grade I
Official name: Queen Victoria Memorial
Designated 5 February 1970
Reference no. 1273864[4]

The Victoria Memorial is a monument to Queen Victoria, located at the end of The Mall in London, and designed and executed by the sculptor Sir Thomas Brock. Designed in 1901, it was unveiled on 16 May 1911, though it was not completed until 1924. It was the centrepiece of an ambitious urban planning scheme, which included the creation of the Queen’s Gardens to a design by Sir Aston Webb, and the refacing of Buckingham Palace (which stands behind the memorial) by the same architect.

Like the earlier Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, commemorating Victoria's consort, the Victoria Memorial has an elaborate scheme of iconographic sculpture. The central pylon of the memorial is of Pentelic marble, and individual statues are in Carrara marble and gilt bronze.[5] The memorial weighs 2,300 tonnes[1] and is 104 ft wide.[6] In 1970 it was listed at Grade I.[4]


Proposal and announcements

King Edward VII suggested that a joint Parliamentary committee should be formed to develop plans for a Memorial to Queen Victoria following her death. The first meeting took place on 19 February 1901 at the Foreign Office, Whitehall. The first secretary of the committee was Arthur Bigge, 1st Baron Stamfordham.[7] Initially these meetings were behind closed doors, and the proceedings were not revealed to the public.[8] However, Lord Mayor of London, Sir Joseph Dimsdale, made the announcement to the public that the committee had decided that the Memorial should be "monumental".[9]

File:Vmsketch model.jpg
The original sketch model created by Thomas Brock of the finalised design of the Victoria Memorial

Reginald Brett, 2nd Viscount Esher, the secretary of the committee, submitted the proposal to the King on 4 March 1901.[10][11] A number of sites were suggested, and the King visited both Westminster Abbey and the park near the Palace of Westminster.[11] Several ideas were rumoured at this time, including an open square in The Mall near to the Duke of York Column, and a memorial located in Green Park.[12]

The location of the Memorial was announced on 26 March, located outside Buckingham Palace with The Mall being slightly shortened. It was estimated that the work would cost £250,000 and there would be no grant given by the Government to the construction.[13] Once the site was selected, a competition was conducted for the actual design.[14] Five architects were chosen to develop designs.[15] This ran through to the beginning of July 1901, when the committee selected its primary choice for the construction and took it to the King for approval.[14] It was announced on 21 October 1902 that Thomas Brock was chosen as the designer. The expectation was that the memorial would cost £200,000.[16][17]

Funding and construction

Funding for the memorial was gathered from around the British Empire as well as the public. The Australian House of Representatives granted a £25,000 contribution for the construction on 17 October 1905.[18] The New Zealand government submitted a cheque for £15,000 towards the fund.[19] By October 1901, some £154,000 had been gathered for the construction of the Memorial.[20] During 1902, a number of tribes from the west coast of Africa sent goods to be sold with the proceeds going towards the fund. Alfred Lewis Jones had arranged for these items to be brought from Africa to Liverpool free of charge on his ships.[21]

Following the public and national donations towards the funds, there was more money collected than was necessary for the construction of the Victoria Memorial. Funds were therefore diverted towards the construction of Admiralty Arch at the other end of The Mall, and a redevelopment to clear a path directly from that road into Trafalgar Square. Sir Aston Webb was put in charge of this project, and built the Arch so economically that enough money was left over to re-front the entirety of Buckingham Palace, a job that was completed in 13 weeks due to the pre-fabrication of the new stonework.[22]

The initial stage of construction was to re-route the road and modify The Mall. Brock hoped that work on the actual Memorial itself was hoped to be started at some point in 1905.[17] The first part of the memorial to be revealed to the public was the lower half, on 24 May 1909. It was visited by thousands of people on the first day.[23]

Dedication and inauguration

The dedication ceremony was practised on 11 March 1911, in the presence of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn.[24] The actual dedication ceremony took place on 16 May by George V. His first cousin, Wilhelm II of Germany, was also present at the unveiling. They were the two senior grandsons of Victoria,[25] and arrived together with their families in Royal precession. Also in attendance were a large number of Members of Parliament in their ceremonial robes, as well as representatives of a number of armed forces.[26]

In his role as Home Secretary, Winston Churchill carried the text of the speeches.[26] Lord Esher addressed the King and the crowd gathered, explaining the history of the Memorial. The King replied to this, referring to his involvement in the development of the marker to his grandmother. He talked of the impact of Queen Victoria, and of her popularity with the public. In total, the ceremony went on for thirty minutes. Following this, it was revealed to the press that the King had decided that the sculptor of the Memorial, Thomas Brock, was to be knighted.[25]

Later uses

As part of the celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II, the Victoria Memorial (along with areas in Green Park and Buckingham Palace) was used as a platform for a fireworks display which lasted fourteen minutes with a total of two and three-quarter tonnes of fireworks used. In addition, water jets were added to the fountains in the Victoria Memorial, which fired water Script error: No such module "convert". up into the air.[27] This display followed a concert held in the Palace forecourt.[28]

It was announced in February 2012 that the Victoria Memorial would form the centrepiece of the stage for Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee Concert on 4 June that year.[29] Platforms designed by Mark Fisher were built around the memorial at a cost of £200,000, and were constructed in two weeks.[30] A number of performers appeared from across the sixty years of Queen Elizabeth II's reign, including Tom Jones, Elton John, Jessie J, Madness, Dame Shirley Bassey and Paul McCartney. Tickets were free and available by public ballot, and in addition to 10,000 fans in attendance, the event was broadcast both on the BBC and highlights shown in the United States on ABC.[31]

Later in 2012, the Memorial marked the end of "Our Greatest Team Parade" on 10 September 2012. This parade celebrated the successes of the British teams at the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. There were 21 floats holding a total of around 800 athletes, and it was estimated that around a million members of the public cheered them on.[32] The area from Admiralty Arch to the Victoria Memorial down the Mall was reserved for ticket holders.[33] After the arrival at the Victoria Memorial, there was a flypast by helicopters of the Royal Air Force, as well as a British Airways jet and a flight of the Red Arrows.[32] During the games, the Mall and the Victoria Memorial had been used as the finishing point for the Marathon,[34] as well as being on the triathlon route.[35]

The Memorial was damaged by anti-austerity protestors during the "Million Mask March" on 5 November 2013, which took place in central London focused on Trafalgar Square and outside Buckingham Palace.[36][37] During the following year's protests, the Memorial was guarded by Police officers.[38]


At the top of the central pylon stands a gilded bronze Winged Victory, standing on a globe and with a victor's palm in one hand. Beneath her are personifications of Constancy, holding a compass with its needle pointing true north, and Courage, holding a club. Beneath these, on the eastern and western sides, are two eagles with wings outspread, representing Empire. Below these, enthroned statues of Queen Victoria (facing The Mall) and of Motherhood (facing Buckingham Palace), with Justice (facing north-westwards towards Green Park) and Truth (facing south-eastwards).[39] These were created from single solid pieces of marble, with Truth being sculpted from a block weighing 40 tonnes.[25] Brock described the symbolism of the Memorial saying that it was devoted to the "qualities which made our Queen so great and so much beloved."[40] He added that the statue of the Queen was placed to face towards the city, while flanked by Truth and Justice as he felt that "she was just and that she sought the truth always and in circumstances",[40] while the Motherhood was to represent her "great love for her people".[40]

File:Queen Victoria statue, Victoria Memorial, London.jpg
The enthroned statue of Queen Victoria

At the four corners of the monument are massive bronze figures with lions, representing Peace (a female figure holding an olive branch), Progress (a nude youth holding a flaming torch), Agriculture (a woman in peasant dress with a sickle and a sheaf of corn) and Manufacture (a blacksmith in modern costume with a hammer and a scroll).[41] The self-bases of the last two groups are inscribed THE GIFT OF NEW ZEALAND.[5]

The whole sculptural programme has a nautical theme, much like the rest of The Mall (Admiralty Arch, for example). This can be seen in the mermaids, mermen and the hippogriff, all of which are suggestive of the United Kingdom's naval power.

The memorial is placed in the middle of an architectural setting of formal gardens and gates designed by architect Sir Aston Webb.

At nearly Script error: No such module "convert". tall, the Victoria Memorial remains the tallest monument to a King or Queen in England.[42]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "The Queen Victoria Memorial". The Royal Parks. Retrieved 13 January 2015. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bradley, Simon; Pevsner, Nikolaus (2003), London: Westminster, The Buildings of England 6, London and New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 655–6 
  3. "St James’s Park and the Green Park Management Plan 2008–2018" (PDF). The Royal Parks. 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2015. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Historic England. "Queen Victoria Memorial (1273864)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ward-Jackson 2011, p. 125
  6. Salaman, Malcolm C. “Sir Thomas Brock's Queen Victoria Memorial.” The Studio 53 (June 1911) 29–40. Internet Archive digitized from a copy in the University of Toronto Library. link
  7. "Victoria Memorial". Dundee Evening Post (338) (British Newspaper Archive). 19 February 1901. p. 3. Retrieved 18 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  8. "The Victoria Memorial". Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette (8460) (British Newspaper Archive). 22 February 1901. p. 6. Retrieved 18 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  9. "Victoria's Memorial". Lincolnshire Echo (2534) (British Newspaper Archive). 2 March 1901. p. 3. Retrieved 18 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  10. "The Victoria Memorial". Tamworth Herald (1836) (British Newspaper Archive). 9 March 1901. p. 3. Retrieved 18 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Victoria Memorial". Hull Daily Mail (4799) (British Newspaper Archive). 5 March 1901. p. 3. (subscription required (help)). 
  12. "Victoria Memorial". Portsmouth Evening News XXVI (7397) (British Newspaper Archive). 13 March 1901. p. 3. Retrieved 18 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  13. "Victoria Memorial". Portsmouth Evening News XXVI (7404) (British Newspaper Archive). 21 March 1901. p. 3. Retrieved 18 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  14. 14.0 14.1 "The Victoria Memorial". Western Daily Press 87 (13447) (British Newspaper Archive). 12 July 1901. p. 8. Retrieved 18 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  15. "The Victoria Memorial". Sheffield Daily Telegraph (14268) (British Newspaper Archive). 4 April 1901. p. 6. Retrieved 18 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  16. "The Victoria Memorial". Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser. LXXVII (14338) (British Newspaper Archive). 22 October 1902. p. 6. Retrieved 18 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  17. 17.0 17.1 "The Victoria Memorial". Nottingham Evening Post (8099) (British Newspaper Archive). 13 August 1904. p. 3. Retrieved 18 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  18. "Victoria Memorial". Dundee Evening Telegraph (8953) (British Newspaper Archive). 17 October 1905. p. 5. Retrieved 18 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  19. "The Victoria Memorial". Aberdeen Daily Journal (15331) (British Newspaper Archive). 9 March 1904. p. 5. Retrieved 18 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  20. "The Victoria Memorial". Western Daily Press 87 (13521) (British Newspaper Archive). 8 October 1901. p. 5. Retrieved 18 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  21. "Victoria Memorial". Nottingham Evening Post (7297) (British Newspaper Archive). 15 January 1902. p. 3. Retrieved 18 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  22. Champkin, Julian (30 October 1997). "Why Victoria Must Be Turning in Her Grave". Daily Mail (HighBeam Research). Retrieved 19 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  23. "Victoria Memorial". Nottingham Evening Post (9583) (British Newspaper Archive). 24 May 1909. p. 5. Retrieved 18 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  24. "Victoria Memorial". Nottingham Evening Post (10142) (British Newspaper Archive). 11 March 1911. p. 6. Retrieved 19 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 "Victoria Memorial Is Unveiled by King George". Dundee Evening Telegraph (10699) (British Newspaper Archive). 16 May 1911. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  26. 26.0 26.1 "The Victoria Memorial". Sheffield Daily Telegraph (17247) (British Newspaper Archive). 17 May 1911. p. 7. Retrieved 19 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  27. "Jubilee 1952 - 2002: Firework display lights up the Palace". Western Mail (HighBeam Research). 4 June 2002. Retrieved 19 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  28. "Jubilee: Queen launches firework finale with a rocket". Belfast Telegraph (HighBeam Research). 3 June 2002. Retrieved 19 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  29. "Ticket Details: Gary Barlow announces Diamond Jubilee spectacular concert". Doncaster Free Press (HighBeam Research). 10 February 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  30. Miller, Daniel (24 May 2012). "One is not amusement: Queen Victoria memorial is turned into fairground-style stage for Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace". Daily Mail. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  31. "Paul McCartney, Shirley Bassey and Elton John to play Queen's Diamond Jubilee gig". Radio Times. 7 February 2012. Retrieved 8 April 2012. 
  32. 32.0 32.1 "Streets Are Paved with Gold". Birmingham Mail (HighBeam Research). 11 September 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  33. "Parade for 800 Olympic and Paralympic Team GB athletes". BBC News. 28 August 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  34. Heald, Claire (5 August 2012). "Olympic women's marathon brings sport to the city". BBC News. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  35. Nikkhah, Roya; Henry, Julie (4 August 2012). "Triathlon: Roar of the crowd fails to help Helen Jenkins to medal". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  36. "Million Mask March: Metropolitan Police plead for peaceful protest". The Daily Telegraph (London). 5 November 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  37. Mertz, Theo (6 November 2013). "'Anonymous' protesters descend on Buckingham Palace and Parliament Square". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  38. Cockcroft, Steph (5 November 2014). "Chaos breaks out in London as Russell Brand joins thousands of masked Guy Fawkes protesters in dramatic Bonfire Night demonstration". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  39. Ward-Jackson 2011, p. 126–7
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 "The Victoria Memorial". Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette (11696) (British Newspaper Archive). 16 May 1911. p. 3. Retrieved 19 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  41. Ward-Jackson 2011, p. 128
  42. "Famous Royal memorials". Retrieved 19 January 2015. 


  • Ward-Jackson, Philip (2011), Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster: Volume 1, Public Sculpture of Britain 14, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press 

External links

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