Curious London memorials – 6. The Buxton Memorial Fountain

February 9, 2011

Standing in Victoria Tower Gardens at the southern end of the Houses of Parliament, not far from more high profile monuments such as Rodin’s The Burghers of Calais, is a memorial to those who fought for the emancipation of slaves.

The gothic memorial, designed by Samuel Sanders Tuelon, was erected in 1865 by MP Charles Buxton to commemorate the work of his father, Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton and his associates including William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson, Zachary Macaulay, Henry Brougham, and Dr Stephen Lushington – all of whom played important roles in the eventual passing of the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act.

Sir Thomas, a founding member of the Anti-Slavery Society along with Wilberforce and Clarkson, took over as leader of the abolitionist movement in parliament after Wilberforce retired in 1825.

The memorial, which looks a little like a smaller version of the Albert Memorial (without the figure within) and is actually a public drinking fountain, was originally erected in Parliament Square but was removed in 1949 and placed in its current location in 1957, marking the 150th anniversary of the 1807 Act which abolished the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

The memorial originally bore eight statues representing the rulers of Britain from the Roman era to Queen Victoria but these were long since stolen. It as restored by Royal Parks in the mid-Noughties and unveiled again on the 27th March, 2007, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the same act.

PICTURE: © Giles Barnard

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