The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 6 St James's Park

Buckingham Palace 1

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At the west end of St. James's Park stands Buckingham Palace, with its spacious forecourt (guard mounting). Immediately in front of the palace rises conspicuously the Queen Victoria Memorial, in a wide semicircular space laid out as a garden and separated from the rest of St. James's Park by a stone balustrade, with three exits flanked by gate-pillars bearing the names and emblems of British colonies. The monument (unveiled in 1911), mainly of white marble, was designed and executed by Sir Thomas Brock. The shallow flights of steps which lead up to the podium are flanked by lions and allegorical figures (Peace and Progress on the east, Manufactures and Agriculture on the west), and on the parapet of the podium are allegorical groups (Science and Art on the north, Naval and Military Power on the south). From the centre rises a pedestal, crowned by a gilded bronze figure of Victory, with figures of Courage and Constancy at her feet. At the base of the pedestal, on the east side, is the seated figure of Queen Victoria (1819-1901), while on the other sides are groups typifying Truth (south), Motherhood (west), and Justice (north). The National Memorial to Queen Victoria includes not only the erection of this monument, but also the rebuilding of the front of Buckingham Palace to provide a worthy background for it, and the expansion of the Mall to form a dignified processional avenue, debouching on the east beneath the Admiralty Arch. On the north side of Buckingham Palace and its garden Constitution Hill leads west to Hyde Park Corner. The triumphal arch at its west end, called variously the Wellington Arch, the Green Park Arch, and (by Thackeray) the 'Pimlico Arch,' was designed by Decimus Burton in 1828 and originally stood immediately opposite the main entrance to Hyde Park. When the arch was removed to its present position in 1883 the' hideous equestrian monster which pervaded it and the neighbourhood,' in the shape of a statue of Wellington, by M. C. Wyatt (erected 1846), was sent to Aldershot. The present spirited group of Peace in her quadriga, by Adrian Jones, dates from 1912. Three attempts on the life of Queen Victoria were made in Constitution Hill (in 1840, 1842, and 1849), and here, in 1850, Sir Robert Peel was fatally injured by a fall from his horse. Between Constitution Hill and Piccadilly extends the grassy expanse of the Green Park, once known as Little or Upper St. James's Park, much frequented by loungers of various classes. The path from south to north at its east end, overlooked by several aristocratic mansions and emerging in Piccadilly at the Ritz Hotel, is known as the Queen's Walk, probably after Queen Caroline, consort of George II. A narrow passage near the south end leads direct to Lancaster House, with the London Museum. It was probably in a reservoir ('gully-hole'), formerly existing near the north west corner of this park that Harriet Westbrook, Shelley's first wife, drowned herself in 1816.