It’s a 176 Feet Tall
One of London’s most ornate monuments, the Albert Memorial is a gilded statue of Prince Albert commemorating the early death of this beloved prince.
When Prince Albert died suddenly of typhoid in 1861 at the young age of 42, his devoted wife (and reigning queen of England) Victoria decided that a memorial should be built in his honour. Inviting seven leading architects to submit designs for the memorial, Queen Victoria chose famed architect Sir George Gilbert Scott to design the monument.
The result? A grand sized Gothic ornament of gold that’s as brash as it is poignant. Funded by public subscription and unveiled by Queen Victoria in 1872, took more than 10 years to complete and cost £120,000 to make (that’s roughly the equivalent of £10 million – or $15 million – in today’s money).
Officially titled the Prince Consort National Memorial, the 176 foot tall Albert Memorial features a golden statue of an enthroned Prince Albert facing south, forever gazing upon his Royal Albert Hall (one of London’s most celebrated concert venues) directly across the street. The prince holds a catalogue from the Great Exhibition of 1851, which he inspired and helped to organise.
As if natural extensions of Prince Albert’s presence, each corner of the Memorial is a sculptural group representing industrial arts and sciences and the continents of Europe, Asia, African and America – the four corners of the British Empire as it was under Victoria’s rule. Each continent grouping includes a number of ethnographic figures and a large animal (a camel for Africa, a buffalo for the Americas, an elephant for Asia and a bull for Europe). The memorial also displays a highly detailed frieze of 169 musicians, poets, painters, sculptors and architects considered to be the greatest of their disciplines during Albert’s days.
From March to December, tours of the Albert Memorial are conducted by Royal Parks at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. on the first Sunday of each month and cost around £5 (roughly $8). Visit www.royalparks.org.uk for more details.
At the southern entrance of Kensington Gardens – and not far at all from Hyde Park, South Kensington Tube Station, Harrods and the upscale shops of Knightsbridge and a wealth of other attractions – this stately Gothic revival memorial adds a touch of over-the-top aplomb to an otherwise rather subdued area of London and is well worth a visit in its own right the next time you book a flight to London.
New Yorkers should take advantage of today’s travel deal and see the monument! NYC to London, r/t with fares starting out at $704, that includes taxes and fees!
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photo: Chris Osburn