Gladstone Memorial, London
A statue of William Gladstone in bronze
The memorial in front of St Clement Danes
ArtistHamo Thornycroft
Completion date1905
TypeStatue
MediumBronze
SubjectWilliam Ewart Gladstone
Dimensions3.4 m (11 ft)
Location
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.

History

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]

Reception

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]

Description

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]

Setting

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]

Footnotes

  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]

References

  1. ^ "History of William Ewart Gladstone". www.gov.uk. 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". www.parliament.uk. 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.

Sources