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Sir John Betjeman

Appropriately enough, the Poet Laureate is standing in St Pancras station which he did so much to save. Betjeman (1906-1984)  worked in Dublin in 1941 where the IRA allegedly thought of assassinating him as a spy but changed its mind on reading his poetry.

St Pancras NW1
Tube: St Pancras

Fleet Air Arm

For me, perhaps the most striking and beautiful statue in London. The figure, called Daedalus, shows a pilot bearing wings and is by James Butler RA. He is responsible for the Dolphins in Dolphin Square and also worked on the Albert Memorial renovation.

Victoria Embankment SW1
Tube: Embankment/Westminster

Great Western Railway

Wrapped in a home-made scarf, reading a letter from home, this is one of Jagger’s finest and most moving works. It commemorates GWR employees who fought in World War I. Jagger himself was wounded twice during the war and the authenticity of his soldiers resonates through the years.

Paddington Station W2
Tube: Paddington

With thousands of statues in London, there are plenty of good and bad ones, many of them listed in the following pages. We are lucky to have somuch good art in public spaces, so here is a personal short list of 12 of the best. Turn the page for a list of the 12 worst.

Agree or disagree? Please suggest any statues you think should or should not be on the list: E-mail me.

Best Statues

The Gardener

This rather lovely piece by Karin Jonzen is a beautiful tribute to all the gardeners whose unseen hard work makes our city a much brighter place. Jonzen (1914-1998) found fame after winning the 1939 Prix de Rome as a student but she was dogged by ill-health later in her career.

Brewers Hall Garden EC2
Tube: Barbican?

Guy The Gorilla

This well-loved animal at London Zoo died of a heart attack during an operation on his teeth in 1978. He arrived at the zoo on November 5, 1947, Guy Fawkes Night, hence his name. Self-taught sculptor David Wynne created this commemoration in 1961 and it is well polished by children climbing on it.

Crystal Palace Park SE19
Rail: Crystal Palace

Richard I

King Richard the Lionheart (1157-1199) spent most of his reign away on The Crusades but was still popular. This wonderful statue by Carlo Marocchetti was first cast in clay for the Great Exhibition of 1851 and a bronze copy paid for in 1860 by public subscription. The sword was bent by a WWII bomb.

Parliament Square SW1
Tube: Westminster

King George III

‘Mad’ King George ruled for nearly 60 years, losing America along the way. This bronze by Matthew Cotes Wyatt (1777-1862), erected in 1836, made the sculptor’s reputation. The fine horse led to a commission for a gigantic mounted Duke of Wellington for Constitution Arch - later moved to Aldershot.

Trafalgar Square WC2
Tube: Charing Cross

David Wall

Jeté (1975) by Enzo Plazzotta is modelled on the dancer David Wall. Now a Ballet Master for English National Ballet, this statue shows him as one of the best dancers of his generation. The redheaded Wall danced regularly with Doreen Wells and Dame Margot Fonteyn.

Millbank W11
Tube: Pimlico

Roosevelt & Churchill

Called 'Allies', this statue by Lawrence Holofcener was unveiled in 1995 by the Bond Street Association to mark 50 years of peace. After their stand against Nazism in World War II, the two men helped found the United Nations. Churchill’s mother was American and he and FDR were distant cousins.

New Bond Street W1
Tube: Bond Street

The Burghers of Calais

During the siege of Calais in 1347, England’s King Edward III promised he would spare the town if six notables gave themselves up. This 1908 work by Rodin shows the brave burghers about to face what they thought would be their deaths. Instead the king spared them on the urging of his wife, Queen Philippa.

Victoria Tower Gardens W11
Tube: Westminster

Physical Energy

George Frederick Watts, RA, was one of the foremost painters of his time but did little sculptural work because of an allergy to plaster. This massive bronze, another casting of which forms the Rhodes Memorial in Cape Town, was put here in 1908. He was responsible for Postman’s Park.

Kensington Gardens W8
Tube: South Kensington

The Boy David

This 1919 Machine Gun Corps Memorial was sculpted by Derwent Wood. ‘Saul hath slain his thousands but David his tens of thousands’ is the rather bloodthirsty inscription. After WWI, Wood made face masks for disfigured soldiers - a pioneer in the field of plastic surgery. There is a tiny copy of the statue on Cheyne Walk.

Hyde Park Corner SW1

Tube: Hyde Park Corner

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