8 locations for royal burials in London…2. St Clement Danes…

This “island church”, located in the middle of the Strand just outside the Royal Courts of Justice, is believed to have been the eventual burial site of King Harold I “Harefoot” who died in 1040.

St Clement Danes today. PICTURE: eltpics (licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)

The son of King Cnut, Harold’s rule was brief. Following the death of his father, he initially ruled as regent on behalf of his father’s heir and younger half-brother Harthacnut (Harthacnut was in Denmark and threats to the kingdom meant he couldn’t leave).

While Harold had apparently sought to be crowned king from the start of his rule (without success thanks to the opposition of Aethelnoth, the Archbishop of Canterbury), it was only in 1037 that, with the support of Leofric, the Earl of Mercia, and other nobles, he was crowned king.

But Harold (who was known by the name Harefoot apparently due to his speed and skill at hunting) died in 1040 and his brother subsequently returned from Denmark to claim the throne peacefully.

The story goes that King Harold had originally been buried in Westminster but that Harthacnut (clearly not a fan) had his body exhumed and flung into marshlands by the River Thames. The body was said to have been found by a fisherman who then had him buried at the church.

It had been established in the ninth century to serve the Danish community which was established after King Alfred the Great had granted them land.

Of course, the current church was not one King Harold would have recognised, having last been completely rebuilt in the 1680s to the designs of Sir Christopher Wren (and then having had its interior completely restored after it was gutted when bombed during World War II).

St Clement Danes, also known as one of the contenders for the church mentioned in the song Oranges and Lemons, is now the central church of the Royal Air Force. It’s one of two “island churches” in the Strand, the other being St Mary le Strand.

WHERE: St Clement Danes, Strand (nearest Tube stations are Temple, Covent Garden and Holborn); WHEN: 10am to 3:30pm weekdays; 10am to 3pm weekends; COST: Free (donations appreciated); WEBSITE: https://stclementdanesraf.org

10 unusual parks or gardens in London – A recap…

Before we commence our next special series, here’s a recap of the series we’ve just run…

1. Kyoto Garden…

2. Brown Hart Gardens…

3. Crossbones Graveyard and Garden of Remembrance…

4. Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden…

5. Tibetan Peace Garden, Imperial War Museum…

6. The Hill Garden and Pergola, Hampstead…

7. Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Garden…

8. Barbican Conservatory…

9. Sky Garden…

10. The Cloister Garden, Museum of the Order of St John…

10 unusual parks or gardens in London…10. The Cloister Garden, Museum of the Order of St John…

Located in the historic former Priory of St John of Jerusalem in Clerkenwell, this garden – despite its historic context – was planted out in the mid-1950s after the adjoining church was restored having suffered extensive damage from incendiary bombs in 1941.

The Cloister Garden in 2015. PICTURE: MrsEds (licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The garden, which was created on the site of two former church buildings and was designed by Alison Wear, is planted with flowers and fragrant and medicinal herbs and features a 200-year-old olive tree brought from Jerusalem.

A quiet place of reflection, it serves as a memorial to those who died in the two World Wars.

The garden, which is maintained by volunteers, was redeveloped in 2009-10 – thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Wellcome Trust – with the addition of paving and beds for planting.

Alongside being a peaceful haven for a casual visit, the garden is also these days used as an event space.

WHERE: The Cloister Garden, The Museum of the Order of St John, St John’s Gate, St John’s Lane, Clerkenwell (nearest Tube station is Farringdon); WHEN: Museum galleries and garden are open from 10am to 5pm Wednesday to Saturday; COST: Free; WEBSITE: https://museumstjohn.org.uk.

10 unusual parks or gardens in London…9. Sky Garden…

The Sky Garden in August, 2021. PICTURE: ian262 (licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

While recent years have seen the creation of a number of roof gardens across London, the Sky Garden – located atop the controversial ‘Walkie Talkie’ building (otherwise known as 20 Fenchurch Street) – has the honour of being the highest public garden in the city.

The three floor garden, which was designed by landscape architecture practice Gillespie’s, opened in January, 2015.

Located on the 36th to 38th floors, it was designed to provide 360 degree views across London and features landscaped gardens, observation decks, an open air terrace (named for the late architectural townscape advisor Francis Golding) and five bars and restaurants.

The gardens include flowering plants such as the African Lily (Agapanthus), Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia) and Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) as well as fragrant herbs such as French Lavender.

WHERE: Sky Garden (via 1 Sky Garden Walk) (nearest Tube station is Monument); WHEN: 10am to 6pm weekdays; 11am to 9pm weekends; COST: Free (but rebooking required); WEBSITE: https://skygarden.london.

10 unusual parks or gardens in London…8. Barbican Conservatory…

PICTURE: Matt Brown (licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Located in the heart of the post-war Brutalist Barbican development is the second largest conservatory in London.

Designed by the complex’s architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, the 23,000 square foot steel and glass conservatory – only bested in size by the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens – was planted in the early 1980s and opened in 1984.

It now houses some 1,500 species of plants and trees from areas as diverse as the bushland of South Africa to the Brazilian coast.

Among the species on show are the tree fern and date palm as well as the Swiss cheese plant and coffee and ginger plants.

The conservatory also features pools containing koi, ghost, and grass carp from Japan and America, as well as other cold water fish such as roach, rudd, and tench and terrapins. An Arid House attached to the east of the conservatory features a collection of cacti, succulents and cymbidiums (cool house orchids).

The conservatory is just one of several distinct gardens at the Barbican complex. These include water gardens located in the midst of lake which feature a range of plants growing in the water itself as well as in a series of sunken pods which are reached by sunken walkways.

Since 1990 the estate has also been home to a wildlife garden which, boasting ponds, a meadow and orchard, is home to more than 300 species including the Lesser Stag Beetle and House Sparrow.

WHERE: The Barbican Conservatory, Barbican Centre, Silk Street (nearest Tube stations are Barbican, Farringdon and Liverpool Street; WHEN: Selected days, from 12pm (check website to book tickets); COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.barbican.org.uk/whats-on/2022/event/visit-the-conservatory.

10 unusual parks or gardens in London…7. Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Garden…

A scene from the Wildlife Garden. PICTURE: Kotomi_ (licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)

Opened in July, 1995, this garden in the grounds of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington has been found to be home to more than 3,300 species.

A scene from the Wildlife Garden. PICTURE: Kotomi_ (licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)

The garden, located on the corner of Cromwell Road and Queen’s Gate, and covering a single acre, was envisaged as a “place to put habitat creation and wildlife conservation into practice”, according to the museum’s website, where visitors can learn about wildlife in the UK and where naturalists, students and museum scientists carry out research.

It features a variety of habitats –  everything from woodland, grassland, scrub, heath, fen, aquatic, reedbed, and hedgerow as well as urban environments – and among the species living there have been hedgehogs, common frogs, ladybirds (Rhyzobius forestieri) and Greyface Dartmoor sheep which are brought in to graze in the autumn.

‘Bioblitzes’ are held during the year by experts and amateurs which involve recording as many species of plants, animals and fungi as possible within a day.

Under the museum’s Urban Nature Project, all five acres of the grounds are being transformed into a fully accessible green space that promotes urban wildlife research, conservation and awareness and according to the museum, the Wildlife Garden will have an integral role to play in that with its overall size doubled (check before visiting to ensure it’s not closed for the renovation work). The new gardens will open next summer.

WHERE: Wildlife Garden, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington (nearest Tube stations are South Kensington and Gloucester Road); WHEN: 11am to 5pm daily until 31st October (closed during wet weather); COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/galleries-and-museum-map/wildlife-garden.html

10 unusual parks or gardens in London…6. The Hill Garden and Pergola, Hampstead…

A view of the pergola. PICTURE: Kent Wang (licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Tucked away in the north-west of Hampstead Heath is a Edwardian-era garden and extravagant pergola that were originally created for a mansion but are now open to the public.

The garden and pergola were created on the orders of the wealthy William H Lever, later Lord Leverhulme, who in 1904 purchased a sizeable Georgian townhouse on the Heath called “The Hill”. Remodelling the house extensively, Lever wanted to also create a garden where he could entertain and sought the help of renowned landscape architect Thomas Mawson to design one on what was steeply sloping land.

Mawson’s plan involved raising the level of the gardens by up to 30 feet and creating a series of terraces. This was made possible due in part to the close proximity of the Hampstead extension of the Northern Line of the Tube – Lever paid to have the spoil which had been dug out to make the Tube tunnels transported the short distance to his garden so it could be used to build it up.

An Italianate pergola was constructed on the boundary between 1905 and 1906, providing views over West Heath while at the same time preventing the general public from looking into the garden. The gardens and pergola were subsequently extended after he bought the neighbouring property in 1911 – the same year Lever was made a baronet – and again in with further works completed in 1925 just months before the now-Lord Leverhulme’s death.

A view of the pergola. PICTURE: Kent Wang (licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

The property was sold to Scots shipping magnate Lord Inverforth and, on his death in 1955, was bequeathed it to the private Manor House Hospital. Following a long period of neglect, London County Council bought the pergola and the gardens which had once been those of the neighbouring property, Heath Lodge, and opened them to the public in 1963 as the Hill Garden.

The City of London Corporation took over management with the abolition of the GLC in 1986 and restoration work was carried out. When the hospital closed in 1998 and the house was sold for luxury housing, further works were carried out and the public part of the gardens took on their current form.

WHERE: The Hill Garden and Pergola, Inverforth Close, North End Way, Hampstead (nearest Tube stations are Golders Green or Hampstead Heath); WHEN: 8:30am to 8pm daily; Daily; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/green-spaces/hampstead-heath/where-to-go-at-hampstead-heath/hill-garden-and-pergola.

10 unusual parks or gardens in London…4. Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden…

PICTURE: Courtesy of VisitLondon.com

This garden can be found on the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre.

The 1,200 square metre garden, which was created in 2011 as part of the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Festival of Britain celebrations, was developed in partnership with the Eden Project.

It is maintained by volunteers from Grounded Ecotherapy, a group which offers people dealing with issues like homelessness and addiction help through horticulture.

The Garden features more than 200 wild native plants as well as a lawn, paths and paving – and stunning views across the river. There’s also a cafe and bar.

WHERE: Queen Elizabeth hall Roof Garden (nearest Tube stations are Waterloo and Embankment); WHEN: Wednesday to Sunday from noon; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.southbankcentre.co.uk/visit/outdoor/queen-elizabeth-hall-roof-garden-cafe-bar.

10 unusual parks or gardens in London…3. Crossbones Graveyard and Garden of Remembrance…

The Crossbones Cemetery in 2017. PICTURE: Matt Brown (licensed under CC BY 2.0)

This small walled garden, located in Southwark, for centuries served as a burial site for the poor of the area nd by the time of its closing in 1853, was the location of some 15,000 burials.

The graveyard is said to have started life as an unconsecrated burial site for ‘Winchester Geese’, sex workers in the medieval period who were licensed to work in the brothels of the Liberty of the Clink by the Bishop of Winchester.

Excavations carried out in the 1990s confirmed a crowded graveyard was on the site.

While the site had been neglected for years following its closure, in 1996 local writer John Constable and a group he co-founded, the Friends of Crossbones, began a campaign to transform Crossbones into a garden of remembrance – something which has happened thanks to their efforts and those of the Bankside Open Spaces Trust and others.

Tributes left on the fence outside the graveyard in Red Cross Way. PICTURE: Garry Knight (licensed under CC BY 2.0)

The garden provides a contemplative space for people to pay their respects to what have become known as the “outcast dead”.

A plaque, funded by Southwark Council, was installed on the gates in 2006 which records the history of the site and the efforts to create a memorial shrine.

WHERE: Crossbones Graveyard, Redcross Way, Southwark (nearest Tube stations are London Bridge and Borough); WHEN: Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 12 to 2pm; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.bost.org.uk/crossbones-graveyard.

10 unusual parks or gardens in London…2. Brown Hart Gardens…

Looking east in the Brown Hart Gardens with the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in the background. PICTURE: Kotomi_ (licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)

This elevated 10,000 square foot garden, located between Duke and Balderton Streets in Mayfair on the Grosvenor Estate, actually sits over the top of an electricity substation.

The now Grade II-listed substation was built in the early 20th century and the garden, which opened in 1906, was designed by Sir Charles Stanley Peach (also the designer of Wimbledon’s Centre Court) to provide some open space in what was then a working class residential area (not to mention its role disguising the substation below).

The garden replaced one which had formerly occupied the substation site and it was apparently at the insistence of the then-Duke of Westminster that the paved Italian-style garden be created following the demolition of the old garden.

It features a Portland stone domed gazebo and steps at either end.

Looking west in the gardens towards the cafe. PICTURE: Andy Thornley (licensed under CC BY 2.0)

The garden deck remained open until 1980 when it was closed by the London Electricity Board. It reopened in October, 2007. A refurbishment project several years later saw the addition of a glass-walled cafe at the western end and other improvements including new planter boxes, seats and a new water feature.

The surrounding housing blocks were built in the late 19th century to replace the poor housing that had previously existed and since 1973 have been under the care of the Peabody Trust.

WHERE: Brown Hart Gardens, Duke Street, Mayfair (nearest Tube stations are Bond Street and Marble Arch); WHEN: Daily, 8am to 8pm; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.grosvenor.com/property/property-uk/brown-hart-gardens.

10 unusual parks or gardens in London…1. Kyoto Garden…

The sun’s shining and it’s a good time to get outdoors so for our new special series we’re looking at 10 of London’s more unusual parks or gardens.

First up, we’re looking at a small slice of Japan in Holland Park – the Kyoto Garden.

PICTURE: Ewan Munro (licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

The garden was created in the summer of 1991 as a co-operative project between the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce in Japan to coincide with the 1991 Japan Festival that marked the centenary of the Anglo-Japanese Society.

PICTURE: Pedro Plassen Lopes (licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0)

It was opened by the Prince Charles and, Naruhito, the Crown Prince of Japan, in September that year.

Designed by a renowned Japanese landscape architect Shoji Nakahara, it features a large pond complete with a tiered waterfall, a small bridge and stone lanterns. Among the plants are Japanese maple trees and Sakura trees while koi swim in the pond and peacocks roam the foliage.

The garden received a makeover in 2011.

Next to the garden is a second Japanese Garden, the Fukushima Memorial Garden, which was created in 2012 in recognition of the support the UK gave to the Prefecture of Fukushima following the 2011 tsunami.

WHERE: The Kyoto Garden, Holland Park (nearest Tube stations are Holland Park and Notting Hill Gate and nearest Overground is Kensington (Olympia)); WHEN: Daily, 7:30am until half an hour before dusk; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.rbkc.gov.uk/leisure-and-culture/parks/holland-park.

10 (lesser known) statues of English monarchs in London…10. Four Queens…

The facade of the former Hotel Russell featuring the statues of the four Queens. PICTURE: Courtesy of Google maps.

We finish our series of lesser known statues of English monarchs with a Bloomsbury building featuring four English queens.

Tucked away in niches over the main entrance of the Hotel Russell – which opened in 1898, the four queens – Elizabeth I, Mary II, Anne, and Victoria – were the work of Henry Charles Fehr.

Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary II. PICTURE: Tom Hilton (licensed under CC BY 2.0)

The larger than lifesize terracotta statues – which face out to Russell Square – don’t include Queen Mary I and are rather unusual and represent idealised versions of the queens. Elizabeth is readily identifiable due to the ruff she wears but there is some confusion over who’s who when it comes to Mary II and Anne. Victoria, meanwhile, is depicted as a very young woman.

Queen Anne and Queen Victoria. PICTURE: Jack1956 (Public domain)

Among other ornamentation, the building – which was designed by C Fitzroy Doll, also features the busts of four Prime Ministers – Lord Derby, Lord Salisbury, William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli – on the Guilford Street facade.

The hotel is now the Kimpton Fitzroy London.

10 (lesser known) statues of English monarchs in London…9. Empress Matilda?…

The neo-Gothic former Public Record Office (now the Maughan Library of King’s College) in Chancery Lane is adorned with statues of several kings and queens including two kings – King Edward III and King Henry III – as well as four queens.

PICTURE: Robert Freidus/The Victorian Web (image cropped)

The queens, which can be found at the top of the tower over the main entrance, include three who are represented with more famous statues elsewhere – Queen Elizabeth I (on the facade of St Dunstan-in-the West), Queen Anne (outside of St Paul’s Cathedral) and Queen Victoria (outside Buckingham Palace among others).

But one of those statues – that of the Empress Matilda – is something of an outlier – unlike the others, the Empress Matilda, while she claimed the title of Queen of England, was never actually crowned (her attempt to be crowned at Westminster failed when opposed by the London mob which supported her opponent, King Stephen).

Instead, Matilda (sometimes known as Maud) claimed the title ‘Lady of the English’ and while she was eventually driven out of England to Normandy where she died, her eldest son did take the crown in 1154 as King Henry II.

The statue, which stands on top of the east side of the tower (and is quite difficult to spot), stands 2.4 metres high and was made of Portland stone to adorn the 1850s, now Grade II* listed building (the gatehouse leading to Chancery Lane – which features the two kings – was an extension in the 1890s). It is said to be the work of sculptor Joseph Durham.

What’s a little puzzling is why the Empress was included as one of the four, particularly given other English queens and monarchs – Queen Mary I and II – were not.

10 (lesser known) statues of English monarchs in London…8.  King Alfred the Great…

Long thought to have been London’s oldest public statue (and certainly the oldest of a monarch), this statue of Anglo-Saxon King Alfred the Great stands in a quiet location in Trinity Church Square in Southwark.

The statue prior to conservation work in 2009. PICTURE: Svitapeneela/Wikipedia

The statue – which depicts the bearded king robed and wearing a crown – was believed to have medieval origins with some suggesting it was among those which north face of Westminster Hall since the 14th century and were removed by Sir John Soane in 1825.

But recent conservation work has shown that half of the statue is actually much older. In fact, it’s believed that the lower half of the figure was recycled from a statue dedicated to the Roman goddess Minerva and is typical of the sort of work dating from the mid-second century.

Measurements of the leg of the lower half indicate the older statue stood some three metres in height, according to the Heritage of London Trust. It is made of Bath Stone and was likely carved by a stone worker located on the continent. It probably came from a temple.

The top half, meanwhile is made of Coade stone and, given that wasn’t invented by Eleanor Coade until around 1770, the creation of the statue as it appears today is obviously much later than was originally suspected which may give credence to theory that it was one of a pair – the other representing Edward the Black Prince – made for the garden of Carlton House in the late 18th century.

Putting the two parts of the statue together would have required some specialised skills.

The Grade II-listed statue has stood in the square since at least 1826. Much about who created it still remains a mystery. The fact it incorporates a much older statue means the question of whether it is in fact London’s oldest outdoor public statue remains a matter of some debate.

10 (lesser known) statues of English monarchs in London…7. Three Stuart Kings and a Queen… 

King Charles I (left) and his son King Charles II on what is now the south side of the gateway. PICTURE: haluk ermis (licensed under CC BY 2.0)

The equestrian statue of King Charles I at the top of Whitehall is one of London’s most well-known. But less well-known is the statue of the ill-fated King which can be found standing in a niche on the Temple Bar gateway, located at the entrance to Paternoster Square just outside of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Charles is not alone. Part of the gateway’s purpose was as a dynastic statement in support of the Stuarts so the grand portal also features statues of Charles’ father King James I, his mother Queen Anne of Denmark, and his son King Charles II. King James and Queen Anne can be found on the north side of the gateway (originally the east side) and the two Charles’ on the south side (originally the west side).

The design of the gateway, which originally stood at the intersection of Fleet Street and the Strand as a ceremonial entrance into the City of London, is believed to be the work of Sir Christopher Wren who was acting on the orders of King Charles II after the Great Fire of London.

Queen Anne of Denmark and King James I on the north side of the gateway. PICTURE: lizsmith (licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The statues, which cost a third of the total £1,500 spent on the gateway, are said to have been sculpted by one John Bushnell. They are depicted in Roman attire rather than the dress they would have worn during the period.

They were removed when the gateway was dismantled in 1878 and stored in a yard of Farringdon Road and when the gateway was re-erected at Lady Meux’s Hertfordshire estate at Theobold’s Park, they were placed back in their original locations. And they also accompanied the gateway back to the city when it was positioned its current location in 2004.

10 (lesser known) statues of English monarchs in London…6. King Edward the Confessor and King Henry III…

PICTURE: Davide Simonetti (licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0/image has been cropped and enhanced).

These two statues are listed together because they both appear on the exterior of the same building – The Sanctuary which stands next to Westminster Abbey.

Close-up of Henry III. PICTURE: Can Pac Swire (licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0/image has been cropped).

This Grade II-listed building, which contains a gateway to the Dean’s Yard, was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and built in Bath stone with slate roofs in the mid-1850s.

The statues, which stand in niches on the exterior of the turrets on either side of the gateway, have been identified as the two kings on London Remembers.

Their position at this location is not random. The king on the left, identified as Edward the Confessor, had St Peter’s Abbey rebuilt here in the mid 11th century (and was buried in it only a week after its consecration).

The king on the right, King Henry III, rebuilt the abbey church in the mid-13th century to provide a shrine to venerate Edward the Confessor and as a site for his own tomb.

The kings are apparently not the only monarchs adorning the building – two roundels below them depict Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

10 (lesser known) statues of English monarchs in London…5. Queen Elizabeth I at Westminster School…

Close-up of the statue of Queen Elizabeth II. PICTURE: Close-up of the statue of Queen Elizabeth II. PICTURE: Matt Brown (licensed under CC BY 2.0)

This rather unusual statue of Queen Elizabeth I is a relatively new addition – it was dedicated 12 years ago on what was the 450th anniversary of the refounding of Westminster School – more properly The Royal College of St Peter in Westminster – by the aforementioned Queen.

The larger-than-life statue, which can be found in Little Dean’s Yard, is the work of a former pupil, sculptor Matthew Spender.

It depicts the Queen in white Travertino Noce stone while her head, surrounded by a giant white ruff is gilded bronze with what was auburn hair. The unusual depiction has certainly attracted its share of detractors.

The statue, which was commissioned by the Westminster School Society, was unveiled by the Queen’s namesake, Queen Elizabeth II, on 21st May, 2010.

There’s a more famous – and more typical – statue of Queen Elizabeth I on the exterior of St Dunstan-in-the-West in Fleet Street and another on the exterior of Guildhall.

Guided tours of the school can be arranged during the school’s holidays. For more information, see www.westminster.org.uk/about/our-history/guided-tours/.

10 (lesser known) statues of English monarchs in London…4. King Edward VII…

PICTURE: Nigel Chadwick (licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)
PICTURE: Singh (licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

It’s a rather incongruous place for a king. Standing outside the entrance to Tooting Broadway Underground Station is a large-than-life statue of King Edward VII, who ruled from 1901-1910.

Erected in 1911 after the King’s death, the statue is the work of Louis Fritz Roselieb (later Roslyn) and was funded through a public subscription.

The statue depicts the King in royal regalia holding a sceptre in his right hand with his left hand resting on his sword hilt. The plinth features bronze reliefs on either side depicting representations of ‘peace’ and ‘charity’.

Given Tooting Broadway Underground Station didn’t open until 1926, the statue wasn’t initially located in relation to it.

In fact, it was originally located on a traffic island a short distance from its current siting but was moved after the area was remodelled in 1994.

It isn’t, of course the only statue of King Edward VII in London – the more well known one can be found in Waterloo Place. It was unveiled by his son, King George V, in 1921.

10 (lesser known) statues of English monarchs in London…3. King Harold Godwinson…

PICTURE: Matt Brown (licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Depicting the last crowned Anglo-Saxon king who famously died at the Battle of Hastings, this statue is located in a niche on the exterior of Waltham Abbey Church on the north-eastern outskirts of Greater London.

The life-sized statue was the work of Canadian-born, Dorset-based, sculptor Elizabeth Muntz and was erected in the 1960s.

King Harold, also known as King Harold II, not only rebuilt the abbey church (apparently after he was healed of paralysis on a pilgrimage to Waltham), the abbey is also a possible site for his grave.

The grave is marked by a memorial stone now located in the churchyard which was erected in 1960. The inscription says the stone marks the position of the former church’s high altar. King Harold is said to have been buried behind this in 1066 after he was killed, according to tradition, by a well-aimed arrow to the eye at the Battle of Hastings (the church was rebuilt in the 12th century which explains why the altar is now located outside).

There are alternate theories for his burial place including in Bosham, West Sussex.

PICTURE: Jim Linwood (licensed under CC BY 2.0)

10 (lesser known) statues of English monarchs in London…2. King George I above St George’s…

The weathered statue of King George I. PICTURE: Wongleism (licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Perched atop the stepped pyramid steeple of St George’s Church in Bloomsbury is a statue of King George I – the only statue of the king in London.

St George’s Bloomsbury with its stepped pyramid spire. PICTURE: Reading Tom (licensed under CC BY 2.0)

The larger-than-life-sized Portland stone statue is the work of Edward Strong who was master mason on the building of the church. It depicts the king in Roman costume standing atop a Roman altar.

The steeple, described as the “most eccentric” in London, also features statues of two unicorns and two lions at its base – both symbols of the Royal Coat of Arms of the UK – the lions representing England and the unicorns Scotland – and included apparently as a comment on Hanoverian succession. These were also originally the work of Strong but the originals disappeared in the 1870s and those now present are replicas which themselves recently underwent a restoration.

The stepped pyramid spire is said to have been influenced by Pliny the Elder’s description of Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.

Horace Walpole famously referred to the statue of King George in verse:

When Henry VIII left the Pope in the lurch,
The Protestants made him the head of the church,
But George’s good subjects, the Bloomsbury people
Instead of the church, made him head of the steeple.