The ALBERT MEMORIAL is situated in
Kensington Gardens ,
directly to the north of the
Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall . It was commissioned
Queen Victoria in memory of her beloved husband, Prince Albert who
died of typhoid in 1861. The memorial was designed by Sir George
Gilbert Scott in the
Gothic Revival style. Opened in July 1872 by
Queen Victoria, with the statue of Albert ceremonially "seated" in
1875, the memorial consists of an ornate canopy or pavilion, in the
style of a Gothic ciborium over the high altar of a church,
containing a statue of the prince facing south. The memorial is 176
feet (54 m) tall, took over ten years to complete, and cost £120,000
(the equivalent of about £10,000,000 in 2010). The cost was met by
The memorial has been Grade I listed since 1970.
* 1 Commission and design
* 2 Architectural influences
* 3 Statue of Albert
Frieze of Parnassus
* 5 Allegorical sculptures
* 6 Canopy
* 7 Foundations
* 8 Architects
* 9 Sculptors
* 10 Later history
* 11 See also
* 12 References
* 13 External links
COMMISSION AND DESIGN
The Memorial statue of Albert, by
John Henry Foley and Thomas
Brock Audio description of the memorial by
When Prince Albert died on 14 December 1861, at the age of 42, the
thoughts of those in government and public life turned to the form and
shape of a suitable memorial, with several possibilities, such as
establishing a university or international scholarships, being
Queen Victoria , however, soon made it clear that she
desired a memorial "in the common sense of the word". The initiative
was taken by the Lord Mayor of London, William Cubitt , who, at a
meeting on 14 January 1862, appointed a committee to raise funds for a
design to be approved by the Queen. The control and future course of
the project, though, moved away from Mansion House , and ended up
being controlled by people close to the Queen, rather than the Mayor.
Those who determined the overall direction from that point on were the
Queen's secretary, General Charles Grey , and the keeper of the privy
purse , Sir Charles Phipps. Later, following the deaths of Grey and
Phipps, their roles were taken on by Sir
Henry Ponsonby and Sir Thomas
Biddulph. Eventually, a four-man steering committee was established,
led by Sir
Charles Lock Eastlake . Eastlake had overall control for
the project until his death in 1865. An initial proposal for an
obelisk memorial failed, and this was followed in May 1862 by the
appointment of a seven-strong committee of architects. A range of
designs were submitted and examined. Two of the designs (those by
Philip Charles Hardwick and
George Gilbert Scott
George Gilbert Scott ) were passed to the
Queen in February 1863 for a final decision to be made. Two months
later, after lengthy deliberations and negotiations with the
government over the costs of the memorial, Scott's design was formally
approved in April 1863.
The Albert Memorial,
Manchester (Thomas Worthington the first to
be erected was Thomas Worthington 's
Albert Memorial in Albert Square,
Manchester , unveiled in 1865. Both memorials present the figure of
Prince Albert enclosed within a Gothic ciborium , and the similarities
of design have been remarked on.
There is some controversy as to whether the memorial in Manchester
was influenced by the publication of Scott's design, or whether Scott
was himself inspired by Worthington's design, or whether both
architects decided on their canopy designs independently.
Worthington's design was published in The Builder on 27 September
1862, before Scott's final design was unveiled. However, writing in
his Recollections, Gilbert Scott suggested his own design was
My idea in designing the Memorial was to erect a kind of ciborium to
protect a statue of the Prince; and its special characteristic was
that the ciborium was designed in some degree on the principles of the
ancient shrines . These shrines were models of imaginary buildings,
such as had never in reality been erected; and my idea was to realise
one of these imaginary structures with its precious materials, its
inlaying, its enamels, etc. etc. ... this was an idea so new as to
provoke much opposition.
Albert Memorial was not the first revivalist design for a
canopied statue in a Gothic style – the
Scott Monument in Edinburgh
had been designed by
George Meikle Kemp over twenty years earlier, and
may itself have influenced Worthington's designs for Manchester.
STATUE OF ALBERT
The commission to make the seated figure of Prince Albert for the
memorial was initially given to Baron
Carlo Marochetti , a favourite
sculptor of Queen Victoria. However, his first version was rejected by
the architect of the monument, Sir George Gilbert Scott, and
Marochetti died in late 1867, before a satisfactory second version
could be completed. In May 1868,
John Henry Foley , sculptor of the
Asia group was commissioned to make the portrait, and his
sketch model approved in December of that year. A full-sized model was
placed on the monument in 1870, and the design approved by the Queen.
The final statue was cast in bronze by Henry Prince and Company, of
Southwark; Foley died in August 1874 before casting was complete.
The gilt bronze statue was ceremonially "seated" in 1875, three years
after the memorial opened. Albert is shown looking south, towards the
Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall from which the architectural form of the memorial as
a whole should not be considered as being intentionally isolated, it
having a particular connection as a result of the location, relating
to the 'World\'s Fair ' in which the Prince was directly involved and
as shown in the contemporary maps of the
Ordnance Survey , including
in particular the still continuing element known as the 'Battle of the
Scales' (metric and imperialist scales), there being a further statue
of the Prince at the south side of the Royal Albert Hall. In this
connection his statue holds a catalogue of the
Great Exhibition , and
is robed as a
Knight of the Garter
Knight of the Garter .
FRIEZE OF PARNASSUS
Frieze of Parnassus
The central part of the memorial is surrounded by the elaborate
Frieze of Parnassus (named after
Mount Parnassus , the
favorite resting place for the Greek muses), which depicts 169
individual composers, architects, poets, painters, and sculptors.
Musicians and poets were placed on the south side, with painters on
the east side, sculptors on the west side, and architects on the north
Henry Hugh Armstead carved the figures on the south and east
side, the painters, musicians and poets (80 in total), and grouped
them by national schools.
John Birnie Philip carved the figures on the
west and north side, the sculptors and architects, and arranged them
in chronological order.
At the corners of the central area, and at the corners of the outer
area, there are two allegorical sculpture programs: four groups
depicting Victorian industrial arts and sciences (agriculture ,
commerce , engineering and manufacturing ), and four more groups
Africa , the
Europe at the four
corners, each continent-group including several ethnographic figures
and a large animal. (A camel for Africa, a bison for the Americas, an
Asia and a bull for Europe.)
William Calder Marshall
by John Lawlor
by John Bell
John Henry Foley https://www.flickr.com/gp/70954345@N00/g9vK76
The form of the monument "is clearly derived" from the Gothic
Scaliger Tombs outside a church in
Verona , The mosaics for each side
and beneath the canopy of the Memorial were designed by Clayton and
Bell and manufactured by the firm of Salviati from Murano, Venice.
The memorial's canopy features several mosaics as external and
internal decorative artworks. Each of the four external mosaics show a
central allegorical figure of the four arts (poetry , painting ,
architecture and sculpture ), supported by two historical figures
either side. The historical figures are:
King David and
Solomon and Ictinus
Michelangelo (sculpture). Materials
used in the mosaics include enamel , polished stone, agate , onyx ,
jasper , cornelian , crystal , marble , and granite .
Around the canopy, below its cornice, is a dedicatory legend split
into four parts, one for each side. The legend reads: Queen Victoria
And Her People • To The Memory Of Albert Prince Consort • As A
Tribute Of Their Gratitude • For A Life Devoted to the Public Good.
The pillars and niches of the canopy feature eight statues
representing the practical arts and sciences:
Geometry (on the four pillars) and
Physiology (in the four niches).
Near the top of the canopy's tower are eight statues of the moral and
Christian virtues, including the four cardinal virtues and the three
theological virtues . The virtues are: Faith , Hope , Charity and
Humility , and Fortitude , Prudence , Justice and Temperance .
Humility is considered to be annexed to the virtue of temperance.
Above these, towards the top of tower, are gilded angels raising their
arms heavenwards. At the very top of the tower is a gold cross.
View of the
Scaliger Tombs in
Verona .View of the Scaliger Tombs. In
the foreground the tomb Mastino II and that of Mastino II behind.
The exterior mosaic of
View of the internal mosaics and the cornicing
Statues of the Virtues on the canopy tower
Below the Memorial is a large undercroft , consisting of numerous
brick arches, which serves as the foundation that supports the large
weight of the stone and metal used to build the monument.
The memorial was planned by a committee of architects led by Sir
George Gilbert Scott
George Gilbert Scott . The other architects, some of whom died during
the course of the project, or were replaced, included Carlo Marochetti
Thomas Leverton Donaldson ,
William Tite ,
Sydney Smirke , James
Matthew Digby Wyatt ,
Philip C. Hardwick , William Burn
Edward Middleton Barry
Edward Middleton Barry .
Albert Memorial faces the Royal Albert Hall, built several
years after construction began on the Memorial Albert Memorial,
shortly after its construction, albumen print, ca. 1876
Henry Hugh Armstead coordinated this massive effort
among many artists of the
Royal Academy , including Thomas Thornycroft
(carved the "Commerce" group),
Patrick MacDowell (carved the "Europe"
group, his last major work), John Bell (carved the "America" group),
John Henry Foley (carved the "Asia" group and started the statue of
William Theed (carved the "Africa" group), William Calder
James Redfern (carved the four Christian and four moral
virtues including Fortitude ), John Lawlor (carved the "Engineering"
Henry Weekes (carved the "Manufactures" group). The
William Calder Marshall carved the "Agriculture"
group. The figure of Albert himself, although started by Foley, was
Thomas Brock , in what was Brock's first major work.
Armstead created some 80 of the figure sculptures on the southern and
eastern sides of the memorial's podium. The north and west sides were
carved by the sculptor
John Birnie Philip . Armstead also sculpted the
bronze statues representing Astronomy, Chemistry, Rhetoric, and
Henry Weekes carved the allegorical work Manufactures (1864–70).
Although Weekes was not on Queen Victoria's original list of
sculptors, being selected to work on the project only after John
Gibson declined to participate, his group occupies the preferable
south side of the finished monument. A central female figure holds an
hourglass , symbolising the critical nature of time to industry, while
an ironworker stands at his anvil and a potter and weaver offer their
By the late 1990s the Memorial had fallen into a state of some decay.
A thorough restoration was carried out by
Mowlem which included
cleaning, repainting, and re-gilding the entire monument as well as
carrying out structural repairs. In the process the cross on top of
the monument, which had been put on sideways during an earlier
restoration attempt, was returned to its correct position. Some of the
restoration, including repairs to damaged friezes, were of limited
The centrepiece of the Memorial is a seated figure of Prince Albert.
Following restoration, this is now covered in gold leaf . For eighty
years the statue had been covered in black paint. Various theories had
existed that it was deliberately blackened during
World War I
World War I to
prevent it becoming a target for
Zeppelin bombing raids or domestic
anti-German sentiment. However,
English Heritage 's research prior to
the restoration suggests that the black coating pre-dates 1914 and may
have been a response to atmospheric pollution that had destroyed the
original gold leaf surface. Further restoration work, including
re-pointing the steps surrounding the memorial, commenced in the
summer of 2006.
Public afternoon tours are held on the first Sunday each month
allowing visitors a closer look at the Frieze of Parnassus.
The railings after the restoration
Reconstruction of the memorial in 2013
* List of public art in
Kensington Gardens §
* ^ "Construction of the memorial". Royal Institute of British
Architects. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 17
* ^ Risebero, Bill, Modern
Architecture and Design: An Alternative
History, p. 91, MIT Press, 1985, ISBN 0-262-68046-7 , ISBN
Historic England . "Prince Consort National Memorial (Albert
National Heritage List for England
National Heritage List for England . Retrieved
29 August 2016.
Historic England . "Details from image database (387866)".
Images of England . Retrieved 22 March 2009.
* ^ A B C D Parkinson-Bailey, John J. (2000). "6: Confidence and
Civic Pride". Manchester: An Architectural History. Manchester
University Press . p. 566. ISBN 0-7190-5606-3 . Page 103-4
* ^ A B "Sheppard FHW, ed. \'Albert Memorial: The memorial\', pp.
159–176, in: Survey of
London (Vol. 38: South Kensington Museums
Area) (1975)". English Heritage. Retrieved 17 March 2008.
* ^ Curl, James Stevens, A celebration of death: an introduction to
some of the buildings, monuments, and settings of funerary
architecture in the Western European tradition, p. 348, B.T. Batsford,
1993, ISBN 0-7134-7336-3 , ISBN 978-0-7134-7336-0
* ^ \'Albert Memorial: The memorial\', Survey of London: volume 38:
South Kensington Museums Area (1975), pp. 159–176. Date accessed: 20
* ^ "Stevens T. \'Weekes, Henry (1807–1877)\', Oxford Dictionary
of National Biography (2004)". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 17
* ^ "
Mowlem for Albert". Construction News. 3 November 1994.
Retrieved 5 June 2012.