The Albert Memorial – A splendid piece of ‘Victorian gothic extravaganza’.
The Albert Memorial is a popular London tourist attraction, situated in Kensington Gardens to the north of the Royal Albert Hall. This Gothic Revival style monument was designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, and was commissioned by Queen Victoria in the late 1800s, in memory of her late husband, Prince Albert, who died in 1861.
This ornate memorial structure is 54 metres tall and includes a statue of Prince Albert ceremonially “seated”. The Albert Memorial was opened in 1872 by Queen Victoria herself, after a ten year construction phase which cost £120,000, the equivalent of approximately £10,000,000 today.
For the best part of 80 years the Memorial was covered in black paint, with various theories of to why it was painted black in existence. The most popular theory to why the Albert Memorial had been black is that it was deliberately blackened during WW1 to help stop it from becoming a target for bombers.
Being a popular London tourist attraction since 1872, by the 1990s the Albert Memorial required some much needed restoration work and a meticulous renovation project was carried out, which included some structural repairs and repainting of the iconic London landmark. Since the restoration, the Memorial’s centrepiece, Prince Albert seated, is now covered head to toe in gold.
Underneath a golden Prince Albert sitting proudly and looking out across Kensington Gardens, a huge marble mosaic runs around the bottom, with marble figures dressed in togas and holding scripts either side of the golden prince. The 187 elaborately carved figures in the frieze depicts painters, poets, sculptors, architects and musicians that were celebrated in the era and that resemble Prince Albert’s love for the arts. The white porcelain figures that stand in each corner of the Memorial represent Europe, Africa, America and Asia.
This iconic and highly influential Memorial, which is bigger than Nelson’s Column, is surrounded by an equally ornate fence with golden gates so that public access is restricted.
If you want however to see the painstakingly meticulous craftsmanship of this wondrous Memorial close up, guided tours of the Albert Memorial are being held on the first Sunday of the month until December 2012.
To book tickets to witness this piece of ‘Victorian gothic extravaganza’ in detail, visit royalparks.org.uk. To really cap this popular London attraction, why not stay at the fabulous Luxury hotel in London, The Wyndham Grand in Chelsea Harbour? You can book online or by calling +44 (0)20 7823 3000.