NELSON'S COLUMN - TRAFALGAR SQUARE, LONDON ENGLAND
Nelson's Column is a monument in the centre of Trafalgar Square in London. It was built between 1840 and 1843 to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It consists of a 5.5m (18ft) statue of Nelson on top of a 56 m granite column. The statue faces south, towards the Palace of Westminster.
The top of the Corinthian column is decorated with bronze acanthus leaves cast from British cannon. The square pedestal is decorated with four bronze panels, cast from captured French guns, depicting Nelson's four great victories.
The monument was designed by architect William Railton in 1838. His original 1:22-scale stone model is exhibited at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.
Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, KB 1758-1805
Trafalgar Square is a square in central London that commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), a British naval victory of the Napoleonic Wars. The original name was to have been "King William the Fourth's Square", but George Ledwell Taylor suggested the name "Trafalgar Square".
The area had been the site of the King's Mews since the time of Edward I. In the 1820s the Prince Regent engaged the landscape architect John Nash to redevelop the area. Nash cleared the square as part of his Charing Cross Improvement Scheme. The present architecture of the square is due to Sir Charles Barry and was completed in 1845.
The square consists of a large central area surrounded by roadways on three sides, and stairs leading to the National Gallery on the other. The roads which cross the square form part of the busy A4 road, and prior to 2003, the square was surrounded by a one-way traffic system on all sides. Underpasses attached to Charing Cross underground station still allow pedestrians to avoid traffic. Recent works have reduced the width of the roads and closed the northern side of the square from traffic.
Nelson's Column Trafalgar Square
Nelson's Column is in the centre of the square, surrounded by fountains and four huge bronze lions sculpted by Sir Edwin Landseer; the metal used is said to have been recycled from the cannon of the French fleet. The column is topped by a statue of Lord Nelson, the admiral who commanded the British Fleet at Trafalgar.
On the north side of the square is the National Gallery and to its east the St Martin's-in-the-Fields church. The square adjoins The Mall via Admiralty Arch to the southwest. To the south is Whitehall, to the east The Strand and South Africa House, to the north Charing Cross Road and on the west side is Canada House.
At the corners of the square are four plinths; the two northern ones were intended to be used for equestrian statues, and thus are wider than the two southern. Three of them hold statues: George IV (northeast, 1840s), Henry Havelock (southeast, 1861, by William Behnes), and Sir Charles James Napier (southwest, 1855). Mayor of London Ken Livingstone controversially expressed a desire to see these replaced with statues of people more relevant to the 21st century.
In 1888 the statue of General Charles George Gordon was erected. In 1943 the statue was removed and re-sited on the Victoria Embankment in 1953.
The Square has become an enormously important symbolic social and political location for visitors and Londoners alike, developing over its history from "an esplanade peopled with figures of national heroes, into the country’s foremost place politique," as historian Rodney Mace has written. Its symbolic importance was demonstrated in 1940 when the Nazi S.S. developed secret plans to transfer the Nelson Column to Berlin following an expected German invasion, as related by Norman Longmate in If Britain Had Fallen (1972).
Nelson's Column Trafalgar Square, London, England
The square is a popular tourist spot in London, and used to be particularly famous for its pigeons (rock doves). Feeding the pigeons was a popular activity with Londoners and tourists. The National Portrait Gallery displays a 1948 photograph of Elizabeth Taylor posing there with bird seed so as to be mobbed by birds. The desirability of the birds' presence has long been contentious: their droppings look ugly on buildings and damage the stonework, and the flock, estimated at its peak to be 35,000, was considered to be a health hazard. In 1996, police arrested one man who was estimated to have trapped 1500 birds for sale to a middleman; it is assumed that the birds ended up in the human food chain.
In 2000 the sale of bird seed in the square was controversially terminated and other measures were introduced to discourage the pigeons, including the use of trained falcons. Supporters of the pigeons and some tourists continued to feed the birds, but in 2003 Ken Livingstone enacted by-laws to ban the feeding of pigeons within the square. There are now relatively few birds in Trafalgar Square, and it is used for festivals and hired out to film companies, in a way that was not feasible in the 1990s.
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