London is rich in history. In fact, it likely has more history than any other city in the world. It has thrived since the Roman times, suffered wars, terrorist attacks, diseases and huge fires. For many years it was the capital city of the world. And when it comes to trade and finance it arguably still is.
It’s also rich in political and military history. Scattered around the city are statues and monuments in honour to politicians, soldiers and wars. When you take notice of them and understand their significance they’re a sight to behold.
Below we’ve put together a list of 30 of them. There are many others but these are some of the most powerful to see.
Great Western Railway Memorial
Unveiled in 1922, the Great Western Railway War Memorial is dedicated to the memory of the employees of the Great Western Railway who lost their lives in WW1. You can find it on platform 1 at Paddington station.
Charles James Fox
Toward the back of Bloomsbury
Working class lad from Somerset, Irving was the first actor to receive a knighthood which transcended him to the upper echelons of society. The Victorian era thespian can be found outside the National Portrait Gallery.
King George IV
The King George IV statue is in Trafalgar Square. I’m unsure why there is a statue towards this unsightly figure because by all accounts he was the worst king Britain’s had.
Major General Sir Henry Havelock
Sir Henry Havelock was a British soldier who fought in the Anglo-Burmese War, the first Afghan war and excelled as a military leader during the Indian Mutiny of 1857 where he subsequently died.
Charles I of England
Just down from Trafalgar Square and towards Charing Cross you’ll find the Charles 1 equestrian statue. The cast itself was made in 1633 (almost 400 years ago!) and has moved around a little during this time.
Spencer Cavendish was a prominent British statesman for four decades starting in the mid-1800s. He famously declined to become Prime Minister on three occasions stating the circumstances were never right.
Field Marshall Haig was commander during the Battle of the Somme which had the highest number of British casualties in history. Because of the sheer number of deaths his tactics have received much criticism in later years.
Field Marshal Slim saw action in both WWI and WWII being wounded in action three times. The Bristolian was also a novelist in his spare time.
Field Marshall Alan Brooke (Viscount Alanbrooke) was head of the army during WWII. As well as this, he was Winston Churchill’s closest advisor throughout the war. When it comes to warfare, Brooke was considered a master strategist. His statue was unveiled in Whitehall in 1993.
Bernard ‘Monty’ Montgomery was a senior British army officer who served in both WWI and WWII. Often called the ‘Spartan General’, Montgomery was known for his courage, efficiency and sometimes lack of diplomacy.
Women of World War II
The Women of World War II Monument was unveiled in 2005 and is dedicated to the work that women did during the war as the men fought. During the war, the male workforce was primarily used for the military. This meant that women became mechanics, engineers, shipbuilders, plumbers, air raid wardens etc.
Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston
Henry John Temple is likely the most powerful British Prime Minister in history. He served in the position twice and from 1830 to 1865 he dominated British foreign policy during its Empire reign. He was in favour of abolishing the slave trade and was a master of swaying public opinion. His statue is in Parliament Square.
Another two-time Prime Minister, Peel is considered the father of modern policing and one of the founders of the Conservative Party. His statue is in Parliament Square.
The man who steered Britain to victory in WWII likely needs no introduction. Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square overlooks Parliament and it’s as if he’s making his way over to the House of Commons to do verbal battle with the other side. The Churchill mindset is a powerful one.
Thomas Thornycroft’s Boudica and Her Daughters
This statue is found on Westminster Bridge opposite Parliament and was created by Thomas Thornycroft in around 1885. According to reports, it took almost thirty years to create. The statue is of Boudica who was the queen of the British Celts and who lead an uprising against the Roman Empire in AD 60.
Iraq and Afghanistan memorial
The Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial was unveiled in March 2017. It is to commemorate the 682 people killed in both countries from the period 1990 to 2015. You can find it on the grounds of the Military of Defence on Embankment Gardens.
Hugh Trenchard is known as the father of the Royal Airforce after helping to establish it. He was an advocate of strategic bombing and offensive flying which are still used in warfare today. He fought in the Boer War, WWI and was involved in the training of pilots during WWII.
The Korean War Memorial
The Korean War Memorial was unveiled in 2014 pays tribute to the thousands killed in the Korean War.
Fleet Air Arm Remembrance memorial
The Fleet Air Arm Remembrance memorial is dedicated to those that served in the Fleet Air Arm, the branch of the British Navy responsible for the operation of naval aircraft. The monument was erected in the year 2000 and it represents Greek mythological figure, Daedalus.
Portal was Marshall of the Royal Airforce. In WWI he was a pilot and then made it to
Charles G Gordon
Major Charles Gordon, born in 1833 was distinguished soldier in the Crimean War and the Second Opium War. He played an important role in stopping the insurgents of the Taiping Rebellion.
The Gurkha Memorial is opposite the Ministry of Defence and commemorates the Brigade of Gurkhas, the Nepalese soldiers that are part of the British Army. The Gurkhas are renowned for their courageous acts against the enemy. The memorial was unveiled in 1997.
Royal Air Force memorial
The Royal Air Force Memorial overlooks the River Thames along Victoria Embankment. It was unveiled in 1923 and is dedicated to the casualties of the Royal Air Force in WWI. The golden gilded eagle is taken from the RAF’s badge and after 1945 further inscriptions were made to recognise the casualties of WWII.
Trafalgar Square lions
The Trafalgar Square lions guard Nelson’s column and represent the might of the British Empire after Admiral Nelson’s British fleet beat the French and Spanish fleets in the Battle of Trafalgar. The lions were sculpted by Edwin Landseer who had never seen a lion or even a picture of one so had to make to with a decaying lion corpse. That’s why it’s behind looks more like a cat’s than a lion’s.
RAF Bomber Command
Located in Green Park, The RAF Bomber Command memorial commemorates the 56,000+ aircrew who lost their lives in WWII. Not just British aircrew but those who fought from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Canada and other Commonwealth countries. The memorial was unveiled in 2012 by Queen Elizabeth on her Diamond Jubilee.
Lioness and Lesser Kudu
The Lioness and Lesser statue is found in the Gardens of Westminster and was placed there in 2000 to mark the opening of the gardens. The sculptor is Jonathan Kenworthy who is famed for producing animal-type works.
Hugh Dowding was an officer in the Royal Air Force (RAF) serving as a fighter pilot and squadron leader in WWI and in WWII was in command of the famous Battle of Britain.
William Gladstone is one of Britain’s most revered Prime Ministers serving for twelve years from 1868 to 1894. In a political career that lasted over sixty years, Gladstone pioneers political campaigning tactics, some of which still used today.
Sir Arthur Harris
More commonly known as ‘Bomber’ Harris, Sir Arthur was Air-Officer Commanding in Chief during the Anglo-American strategic bombing of Hitler’s Germany.