The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 12 Knightsbridge and Kensington

Albert Memorial and the Royal Albert Hall

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A little farther on, facing each other on opposite sides of the street, are the huge bulk of the Albert Hall and the Gothic spire of the Albert Memorial, The ALBERT MEMORIAL, the national monument to Prince Albert of SaxeCoburg-Gotha (1819-61), consort of Queen Victoria, rises within Kensington Gardens, near the site once occupied by the Great Exhibition of 1851. Erected from the design of Sir G. Gilbert Scott at a cost of �120,000, it was unveiled in 1872, the statue in 1876. This elaborate monument, enriched with marble, coloured stone, and mosaics, is far from commanding universal admiration. It consists of a colossal bronze-gilt statue of the prince, by Foley, seated beneath a Gothic spire or canopy, 175 feet high, on four clustered columns. At the angles of the pedestal are allegorical groups representing Agriculture (by Calder Marshall). Manufactures (by Weeks), Commerce (by Thornycroft), and Engineering (by Lawlor), and on the sides of the pedestal, below, are admirable marble reliefs of artists and men of letters of all periods, by J. P. Philip (north and west sides) and H. Armstead (south and east sides). The whole stands upon a raised platform approached on all four sides by steps, at the lower angles of which are larger groups representing Europe (by McDowell), Asia (by Foley), Africa (by Theed), and America (by John Bell). The Royal Albert Hall, a huge amphitheatre roofed over by a glass dome, and capable of containing about 8000 persons, is used for concerts, public meetings, exhibitions, etc. Externally it measures 273 feet in length, 240 feet in breadth, and 155 feet in height. The design, said to have been suggested by Prince Albert, was carried out in 1867-71 by Lieutenant-Colonel Scott, R.E., for a joint-stock company, at a cost of about �200,000. The building consists of two concentric walls, between which are the staircases and corridors. The exterior is richly decorated with coloured brick and terracotta ornaments; near the top is a frieze by Minton, depicting the various peoples of the globe, from designs by Pickersgill, Armitage, Marks, and Poynter. The interior (for admission to view, apply at the inquiry office) is of no particular interest apart from its great size, but it presents an impressive spectacle when its tiers of seats are crowded on the occasion of some public meeting. The large organ is by Willis. Sunday and other concerts here.