Trafalgar Square the heart of London

London is home to some of the most historic attractions in the whole of Britain. There are buildings, statues, castles, palaces and cathedrals among other historical sites, that dot the city landscape.  With so many places to visit and explore, it comes as no surprise that it is out of the most popular tourist destinations in the whole world.

If you do plan to visit the city in the New Year, the best time would be around summer time when the weather is balmy and there is plenty of sunshine. Just ensure to book your tickets in advance if you do not want to be disappointed because of high occupancy rates in hotels. Choose a central location to stay like a hotel nearby Trafalgar Square and Hotels near Paddington station, which will make getting to different parts of the city relatively easy. There are many good hotels nearby Trafalgar Square that offer comfort and luxury at a very reasonable cost, especially if you get strike a deal like a seasonal discount or special promotional offer. You could begin your sightseeing around London by starting with Trafalgar Square…

It is the largest square in the city London and is generally thought of being the most central part of London. It has long history dating back to the Middle Ages, when this spot was a meeting place for inhabitants from London and the outskirts. In the centre of the square is tall column that is dedicated to the memory of Admiral Nelson. It was originally known as Charing and later began to be called Charing Cross, because of a memorial cross that is at the square. The tube-station that lies close by is still known as Charing Cross station.

History

The area from the 13th century served as a site first of His Majesty’s Royal Hawks and later the Royal Mews.  This was until the Prince Regent in 1812, later to become King George IV instructed the renowned architect of the time John Nash to completely redevelop the place. There was a long delay in the project being started and finally in 1830 work began with Nash having the area cleared but he dies before the project actually took off. The plan was halted and all work on the site came to a standstill.

Finally after the National Gallery was completed in 1838 towards the north of the square, there became a renewed interest in redeveloping the area. For this a new architect Charles Barry (chief architect of the Houses of Parliament), was commissioned, who proposed a new design. It was designed in a way for two levels to be created that would be separated by a monumental flight of stairs. The design was agreed upon and work on its construction began in 1840. It took five years for the project to be completed.

Nelson’s Column

The Square is named in memory of Admiral Horatio Nelson, who achieved an overwhelming victory in a sea-battle over the French navy at the famous Battle of Trafalgar. It occurred on the 21st of October 1805 just off the Spanish Coastline, close to Cape Trafalgar. In the beginning there were no initial plans to commemorate the victory with a statue to honour the legendary admiral, who had lost his life in the battle. Instead of Lord Nelson’s statue plans were being drawn up to build a statue of King William IV instead. Finally it was decided in 1838, that the place was perfect for a monument to be built, that would be dedicated to the memory of the empire’s most famous admiral and a contest was held to choose a design for the statue of Admiral Nelson.

Finally the winner of the contest was William Railton, whose design featured a 52 meter tall Corinthian column and a statue. It took two years to build the column (1841 to 1843). At the crest of the column there is a five and a halve metre tall statue of Admiral Nelson, which was built by Edward Hodges. Sir Edwin Landseer was given the task of designing the base which consists of four huge lions which were later added in 1868.

Other Statues

You will see four plinths at all four corners of the lower level of Trafalgar Square. That in the north-east has a statue of George IV riding a horse that was installed in 1843. It was created by Francis Chantrey, specifically for the Marble Arch but instead was installed here. Towards the south-west corner you will see a statue of Charles Napier, who served as a military leader and finally commander-in-chief of the British Army in colonial India. It was designed by George Adams and was placed here in 1856. If you look towards the western promenade you will see the statue of Henry Havelock, who was another military official that spent most of his military career in India. It was created by William Behnes and installed in 1861.

The fourth plinth in the north-west corner of Trafalgar Square remained without any commemorative statue for over one and half century. There was a plan initially to showcase an equestrian statue of King William IV, but a lack of financial resources for it to be commissioned led to the idea being shelved. Finally the authorities decided in 1999 to use the place as an interim display platform for modern sculpture. You will see many more statues all around and in Trafalgar Square. Another prominent sculpture is that of King Charles I, astride a horse that can be seen in the middle of a traffic circle to the south of Nelson’s Column. It was created by the French sculptor Le Sueur in 1633 and is known to be the oldest equestrian statue in London.

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