Gladstone Memorial, London
A statue of William Gladstone in bronze
The memorial in front of St Clement Danes
ArtistHamo Thornycroft
Completion date1905
SubjectWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Dimensions3.4 m (11 ft)
CoordinatesCoordinates: 51°30′47″N 0°06′52″W / 51.513°N 0.1145°W / 51.513; -0.1145
Listed Building – Grade II
Official nameStatue of W E Gladstone on island in road, Strand, WC2
Designated24 February 1958
Reference no.1237098

The Gladstone Memorial on the Strand, London is a bronze sculpture of the British statesman, created by Hamo Thornycroft between 1899-1905. The statue was erected as the national memorial to Gladstone and shows him in the robes of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The figure stands on a plinth surrounded by allegorical figures depicting four of the Virtues, Courage, Brotherhood, Education and Aspiration. The memorial is a Grade II listed structure.


William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898) served four terms as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom between 1868 and 1894.[1] One of outstanding political figures of Victorian England, he sought to reform the electoral franchise through the Representation of the People Act 1884 and the introduction of secret ballots;[2] pursued free trade[3] and attempted to "pacify Ireland" through Home Rule.[4] Although personally opposed to imperial expansion, his terms of office saw major foreign engagements including the death of General Gordon at Khartoum,[5] the Mahdist War and the outbreak of the First Boer War.[6]

Following Gladstone’s death in 1898, a committee was established to raise funds for a national memorial.[7] The commission was given to Hamo Thornycroft.[8] Born into a family of sculptors, by the 1880s Thornycroft had established his own reputation as a distinguished artist.[9] He had already received commissions for commemorative sculptures around Westminster, including statues of Oliver Cromwell, outside the House of Commons,[10] and General Gordon in Trafalgar Square.[a][12] The commission took Thornycroft six years and the statue was not finally unveiled until 1906.[13] The unveiling ceremony was conducted by John Morley, a member of Gladstone's Cabinets and his biographer.[14] The cost was £8,000.[14]


The critic Edmund Gosse wrote to congratulate Thornycroft after the memorial's completion; "It is so dignified, so solid and the head so magnificent,; you have got that look of frenzy in the eye that all his best portraits have".[b][14] Simon Bradley, in the 2003 revised version London 6: Westminster of the Pevsner Buildings of England series, describes the statue as a "fine, robed figure".[13] The sculpture is a Grade II listed structure.[15]


The statue is executed in bronze[16] and is 3.35 metres (11.0 ft) high.[13] It stands on a plinth of Portland stone by John Lee.[13] Gladstone is depicted in the robes of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.[c] An inscription on the front of the plinth reads "GLADSTONE 1809-1898".[7] Allegorical statues of women, mostly with children,[18] surround the base, representing four of the Virtues, Courage, Brotherhood, Education and Aspiration.[13]


The memorial stands at the east end of the Strand, in front of the Church of St Clement Danes. It was originally encircled by the roadway, but is now in a pedestrianised plaza. The plaza also has late-20th century sculptures of Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding, and Marshall of the Royal Air Force Arthur Harris,[13] St Clement's being the Royal Air Force church.[19]


  1. ^ The statue of Gordon was moved to safety at Mentmore Towers during the Second World War, and was re-sited in Victoria Embankment Gardens in the 1950s.[11]
  2. ^ Gosse's letter continued; “It always seems to me that if Gladstone had ever had the leisure to take up madness as a profession, he might have been a first class lunatic".[14]
  3. ^ Gladstone served four terms as Chancellor of the Exchequer, the latter two while also holding the office of Prime Minister.[17]


  1. ^ "History of William Ewart Gladstone". UK Government. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  2. ^ "Gladstone's Parliamentary Record 1868-1900". Liberal History. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  3. ^ "Gladstonian Liberalism". Liberal History. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  4. ^ "Two home rule Bills". UK Government. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  5. ^ Kirby, Terry (11 May 2006). "Britain's colonial adventures: The truth about Gordon of Khartoum". The Independent.
  6. ^ "The Boer Wars". Oxford Reference. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  7. ^ a b Darke 1991, p. 50.
  8. ^ Blackwood 1989, p. 204.
  9. ^ "Sir William Hamo Thornycroft RA". Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951 database. Retrieved 12 December 2021.
  10. ^ Blackwood 1989, p. 208.
  11. ^ Historic England. "Statue of General Gordon (Grade II) (1066175)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  12. ^ Blackwood 1989, p. 268.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Bradley & Pevsner 2003, p. 291.
  14. ^ a b c d Blackwood 1989, p. 206.
  15. ^ Historic England. "Statue of W E Gladstone on island in road, Strand, WC2 (Grade II) (1237098)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  16. ^ "W E Gladstone Monument". The Victorian Web. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  17. ^ "Blue Plaques: William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898)". English Heritage. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  18. ^ "Gladstone statue: The Strand". London Remembers. Retrieved 12 December 2021.
  19. ^ Bradley & Pevsner 2003, p. 289.