It’s generally believed that London’s oldest outdoor statue is that of King Alfred the Great which stands in Trinity Church Square in Southwark but there are a few others worth mentioning for their age.
But first, to the statue of Alfred the Great. Located now in Trinity Church Square, it is thought to have been made in the late 14th century (although it’s also suggested it could be much younger) in honor of the man who ruled Wessex in the 9th century and is often credited as being the first “king of the English”.
The statue (right) was apparently located at the Palace of Westminster before it was brought to its present location in 1823 at about the time the square was being laid out.
Others among London’s oldest statues is that of King Charles I sitting astride his horse and looking from Whitehall from its position on the southern side of Trafalgar Square.
Credited as being London’s “oldest equestrian bronze”, this statue is the work of French sculptor Hubert Le Sueur and was cast in 1633 (during King Charles I’s rule) at the behest of Richard Weston, one of the king’s favorites, who that year became the 1st Earl of Portland.
It was removed during the Civil War but later reacquired by the Portland family and, following the Restoration, was reinstalled on its current site – once that of the Charing Cross (see our previous entry for more details) – in 1675 by King Charles II.
Another of London’s oldest statues is that of Queen Elizabeth I which stands on the facade of the church St Dunstan-in-the-West in Fleet Street. This statue, which has been attributed to William Kerwin although other names have also been suggested, dates from 1586 (created during her reign) and decorated the west side of Ludgate until its demolition in 1760, after which it was apparently put into storage until being brought to the church in the 19th century.
Standing nearby in the vestry porch as statues of the legendary pre-Roman British king, Lud, and his sons, Androgeus and Tenvantius, which were also removed from Ludgate and probably date from the same period (about 1586).
5 thoughts on “Where’s London’s oldest…outdoor statue?”
Thanks Peter – indeed, arguably so! Depends on your definition, I suppose. I would tend to categorise Sekhmet as a bust as opposed to a statue (ie. a full length depiction of a figure).
I thought that this title belonged to Sekhmet on the facade of Sotheby’s in New Bond Street, c 1320 BC!