Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Kingsgate House, 114-115 High Holborn WC1

You really have to crane your neck to see this extraordinary pair of statues perched right on the top of the Queen Anne style Kingsgate House. When they were placed there in about 1903 they represented the first and latest Edwards to sit on the throne of England, Edwards I and VII.
The building is in fact part of the Baptist Union complex in Southampton Row behind, designed by Arthur Keen. The statue of Bunyan on that building is by Richard Garbe, who indeed carved the two kings.
The choice of subject was no doubt prompted by the fact that Edward VII had just come to the throne. Comparing the new monarch to Edward I, a great warrior, Crusader, legal reformer and establisher of parliament, probably went down well.
The images will be totally familiar to anyone who went through an English education before about 1968. Edward I is dressed in chain mail, wears a sword and holds what appears to be a hammer, a reference to his nickname, Hammer of the Scots. Edward VII with his familiar beard holds the orb and sceptre. No sword, though he was a noted swordsman in his own inimitable way.

4 comments:

Hels said...

They are fine statues!

I think Edward VII probably would have had to go some, to catch up with a great warrior, crusader, legal reformer and establisher of parliament :) My grandparents' generation thought of him ONLY as a very very friendly, art-loving, sporty sort of royal who opened up Britain and the Empire to change.

By the way, was the statue of Edward VII slimmed down a little? Or did Edward VII only gain weight after his coronation?

ChrisP said...

The waistline of Ed VII needs more research. Gimme a grant!

Jane said...

Ed featured in Flickr GWL the other week and it took quite a while to be identified

Dave Durant said...

I work within sight of this building and found myself wondering today who they were. Five minutes on google and I'm on this site. I love the internet!

It's great to know that folks are working on things they love to produce sites like this full of slightly obscure fascinating details.

Thanks!