Queen Victoria in W14

Warwick Gardens is a posh road just around the corner from Olympia. Its actually part of the one way system to Earl’s Court.

I’m sure many people, including motorists, will have noticed the huge palm tree that stands at the junction, but far less notice the rather unusual monument to Queen Victoria. That’s because its relatively obscured by the palm tree in question 🙂

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The memorial with its nearest competitor!

This memorial was built in 1904 to the memory of  Queen Victoria on the 85th anniversary year of her birth at nearby Kensington Palace.

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View looking north.

It originally stood at the junction with Kensington Church Street. To many this spot might seem a long way from the Palace but in essence this was the Royals’ doorstep (as it still is today.) The Palace’s own barracks were just up Church Street, and connections between here and the Palace have been long standing, including the pedestrian routes that lead to Kensington Palace Green. Being at this location also meant it was so much nearer the Palace than, say, placing it at the top end of either Palace Gate or Queen’s Gate.

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The memorial’s former position at the bottom of Kensington Church Street.

The memorial was in great danger of being demolished when proposals to widen High Street Kensington were made in 1934. This is where Warwick Gardens came to the rescue. The start to the Gardens is a very wide piece of open space, almost like a circus or square. In fact this bit had originally been built circa 1830s as Warwick Square and was the memorial’s ideal new home.

The widening of High Street Kensington itself saw many of the buildings on the south side replaced by the new, larger stores that are still seen today. These include of course the famous Barkers store (currently Whole Foods/Hobbs) and Derry and Tom’s store (Gap, now closed/H&M/Marks and Spencers.)

The Victoria Memorial itself is made from a pink granite known as Corrennine from the quarries of the same name in Aberdeenshire.

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The commemorative plaque.

The memorial was unveiled at its original location in Kensington High Street on 19 October 1904. Princess Louise was the Royal officiator, accompanied by the Duke of Argyll, her husband. The Princess commented that Victoria herself would have approved the memorial for it “was not a monument of money but of grace and beauty of design”.

The wording around the ring or amulet in the centre of the column says “Victoria, Queen and Empress.” There is a picture of Victoria herself on the north side of the amulet although its not easy to see directly due to the palm tree, and anyway, it seems to have suffered some slight damage.

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The vase and gilt flame.

On top is a granite vase within a cast iron frame and a gilt flame placed at a height of 11 metres. The base is a huge granite block with just the tablet as shown below. It seems other embellishments had been intended however the funds that were raised to build the memorial barely covered its costs, so the base is perhaps not as had been planned.

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The rather plain base which I assume is unfinished.

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