Yes, We Will Always Remember
THE BRITISH HAVE ALWAYS been good at memorializing their national and local heroes. Scratch the surface of any provincial city or market town and you’ll turn up monuments galore. London is veritably awash in statues commemorating public figures. Here is a collection of memorials worth more than a glance.
1 THE ALBERT MEMORIAL LONDON
Just across the street from the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington Gardens, the dazzling Albert Memorial is Queen Victoria’s personal tribute to her beloved husband, Prince Albert (though it was financed by public subscription). The 176-foot-tall, ornate Gothic Revival monument, designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, took 10 years to complete in 1872.
2 THE WALLACE MONUMENT, STIRLING
On the summit of Abbey Craig outside of Stirling, the National Wallace Monument stands where William Wallace watched the English gather for the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Climb the 246 spiral stairs of the sandstone tower, completed in 1869, for exquisite views over the Forth Valley.
3 ASHTON MEMORIAL, LANCASTER
Dominating Lancaster’s skyline from Williamson Park, the Ashton Memorial is one of England’s grandest follies. Built by Baron Ashton in 1909 in memory of his wife, the huge Baroque building, called “The Taj Mahal of the North,” is today a venue for concerts and exhibitions.
4 NELSON’S COLUMN, LONDON
The 170-foot plinth commemorating Admiral Lord Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar is one of London’s most iconic landmarks. Nelson’s Column and the four bronze lions surrounding its base dominate the piazza where St. James, Westminster, Covent Garden and The Strand all meet.
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5 THE SCOTT MONUMENT, EDINBURGH
A 200-foot tower stretches above a massive statue of Sir Walter Scott, seated with his dog Maida beside him. Impossible to miss in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens, the memorial to the Scottish nationalist writer is the largest monument in the world commemorating a literary figure.
6 MONUMENT, LONDON
The wags call it “Sir Christopher Wren’s last great erection.” The giant column near Black-friars Bridge commemorates the Great Fire of London in 1665. If the column were lying on its side, it would mark the spot in Pudding Lane where the fire began. Climb its 404 steps for magnificent views across the City and the metropolis.
7 CALTON HILL, EDINBURGH
A trio of striking monuments stand on Calton Hill on the eastern edge of Edinburgh’s New Town. Commemorative memorials honor Lord Nelson and Scottish philosopher Dugald Stewart. An unfinished, but dramatic, replica of the Athen’s Parthenon is the National Monument, to honor those who died fighting in the Napoleonic Wars.
8 VICTORIA MEMORIAL, LONDON
In the center of the Queen’s Gardens in front of Buckingham Palace, the beautiful white marble sculpture features Queen Victoria looking toward the Mall, surrounded by the Angels of Justice, Truth and Charity. Dedicated by King George V in 1911, the memorial is best known as a most convenient vantage for observing the Changing of the Guard.
9 CABOT TOWER, BRISTOL
A spiral staircase leads up Cabot Tower on Brandon Hill, offering amazing views over the city of Bristol below. Built in 1897 to honor John Cabot on the 400th anniversary of his New World expedition, the red sandstone tower, raised by public subscription, is one of Bristol’s most visible landmarks.
10 ALFRED THE GREAT, WINCHESTER
At the eastern end of The Broadway, the statue of Alfred the Great, holding his sword aloft, faces Winchester’s pretty pedestrian High Street—that leads past Winchester Cathedral and uphill to the Great Hall of Winchester’s Norman castle. It’s most impressive that Alfred keeps such high profile watch over his old capital.
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