In the centre of London, on the doorstep of InterContinental Park Lane is Hyde Park corner; one of London’s largest roundabouts with a substantial neoclassical arch at its centre, known as Constitution Arch or Wellington Arch.
At the top of this arch is the largest bronze sculpture in Europe, ‘Peace Descending on the Quardriga’, which depicts the Angel of Peace descending in a four-horse chariot of war, and driven by a young boy. This boy is the 11-year-old son of Lord Michelham, who got to choose the depiction, as he paid for the statue.
This, however, was not the original bronze mounted there. Until 1912, a large statue of the Duke of Wellington astride his horse looked down on passers-by. When he died, Queen Victoria gave the order to replace him. Hence resulting in two names for the Arch.
Another impressive monument, with a particularly deep connection to Queen Victoria, can be found a short walk away in Kensington Gardens. The Albert Memorial is an unusually un-British, very public display of affection for the Queen’s late husband, Prince Albert. The monument was paid for by contributions from the general public.
This extraordinary monument celebrates Victorian achievement and Prince Albert’s passions and interests. Sat under a canopy, high on a plinth is a gilt bronze statue of Prince Albert himself, surrounding are marble sculptures and friezes galore, covering everything from the arts, sciences, the four continents. As well as artists, poets, sculptors, musicians and architects, which were Prince Albert’s passions.
Not all statues need be so grand. London’s tiniest statue can be found halfway up a building on the south-east corner of Philpot Lane, just north of London Bridge. Here you will find two mice sharing a-tug-of-war over a piece of bread. A memorial to two builders who died while working on the construction of The Monument; which itself is a monument to commemorate the Great Fire of London.
The two builders who were close friends were working high up on the column when one accused the other of eating his cheese sandwich. A fight ensued, and the pair ended up losing their footing and falling. It was only later, after similar disappearances, that the real culprits were discovered – an infestation of mice.