Whether you are in London for the Olympics or to see the sights, keep your eyes open for the silent tributes to the history, heroes, and culture of the city — the statues that abound almost everywhere you look. Nelson on his column, and Eros (Cupid) in Piccadilly Circus are probably the most iconic, but there are thousands more all over the city. Here are just a few of my favourites.
While you are in the area of Kensington and Hyde Parks, on a lighthearted note, look for Peter Pan playing mischievously in a small garden on the South side of the park.
In the alley running beside the church in St. Martin-in-the-Fields, look for a black marble bench, which is also a striking and whimsical statue called ‘Conversation with Oscar Wilde.” Sit on it and chat with him for a while, but don’t join the crew of ragamuffins who keep stealing his cigarette.
Many of the war memorials were sobering, and the one dedicated to the women stopped me in my tracks
Among the many memorials to ordinary soldiers and war heroes is one on Park Mall in the middle of the boulevard to all the animals who served and died in the First World War. Some reports suggest there were more of them than dead or wounded soldiers.
Then there are the statues that just make you smirk
Many historical memorials forever etched in stone
One time special installations pop up and are sometimes controversial . This one resonated with me on a visit in 2005 , a self portrait by sculptor and thalidomide victim Alison Lapper in the late stages of her pregnancy.
When I mentioned that the statues are everywhere, I meant it. look for Sherlock Holmes outside Baker Street Station, the inventor of the railways, Robert Stevenson outside Euston Station, a pair of dancing centaurs in Whiteley’s Department store , off Bayswater, and a gaggle of naked gypsies dancing in a fountain in the foyer of Hammersmith subway station.
Paying attention to the statues adds another dimension to your enjoyment of London
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all photographs by Jeff Thomason