Located on the west bank of the Thames between Waterloo and Hungerford Bridges are two separate memorials to the dramatist Sir WS Gilbert (1836-1911) and composer Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900) – a partnership better known simply as Gilbert and Sullivan.

The first to be unveiled was a now Grade II-listed bronze bust of Sullivan in 1903. Located at the northern end of Victoria Embankment Gardens, it is the work of Sir William Goscombe John and, along with the bust which sits atop a pedestal, the monument features a scantily clad female muse leaning against the pillar in apparent grief.

Sheet music, a mandolin and a Pan mask all lie in a heap beside her – the discarded props of Sullivan’s profession – and on the side of the plinth are inscribed some lines from his work, The Yeoman of the Guard: “Is life a boon? If so, it must befall that Death, whene’er he call, must call too soon” (the same lines are inscribed on the sheet music).

The bronze memorial plaque to Gilbert, meanwhile, was unveiled in 1915, four years after his death. It’s attached to Charing Cross Pier on the downstream side of Hungerford Bridge and, the work of Sir George Frampton, shows Gilbert in profile relief flanked by figures of Comedy and Tragedy.

Gilbert is accompanied by an inscription which reads: “His foe was folly & his weapon wit”. A shield underneath bears a Latin inscription which translates as “I would rather die than change”.

The location of the memorials is not coincidental – the career of Gilbert and Sullivan was closely associated with the nearby Savoy Theatre, where many of their works were premiered thanks to its owner Richard D’Oyly Carte – he’s also commemorated in a memorial opposite the entrance to the Savoy nearby.

 

We’re kicking off a new special series next Wednesday but in the meantime we thought we’d recap our latest series – 10 (more) curious London memorials, and the previous series, 10 curious London memorials…

So, first for the 10 (more) curious London memorials list…

10. Memorial to 16th century navigators…

9. The Speke Monument…

8. The SOE Memorial…

7. D’Oyly Carte Memorial…

6. 7 July Memorial…

5. National Police Memorial…

4. ‘People of London’ Memorial…

3. William Wallace Memorial…

2. Animals in War Memorial…

1. Kindertransport memorial…

And, for the first curious London memorials list, which we ran way back in 2011…

10. The Bard or not The Bard?

9. The Golden Boy of Pye Corner

8. Edith Cavell Memorial

7. Tower Hill scaffold memorial

6. The Buxton Memorial Fountain

5. Eros (or the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain)

4. The Suffragette Memorial

3. Charing Cross

2. The Albert Memorial

1. Watt’s Memorial in Postman’s Park

Hope you’ve enjoyed them. We look forward to bringing you our next series from next Wednesday…