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The largest empire in history had a massive impact on the world and left many traces in its capital city. Heroes of the era have been largely forgotten, although their epic stories were once familiar parts of the mythology of empire-building.

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Empire

Albert Memorial

Queen Victoria’s beloved husband is holding a catalogue of The Great Exhibition of 1851, the profits from which built the nearby Victoria and Albert, Science and Natural History museums. Prince Albert died in 1861 and the memorial shows the four corners of the Empire and 169 major Victorian artistic figures.

Kensington Gore SW7
Tube: Kensington High Street

Reginald Brabazon

This memorial to Brabazon - Lord Meath (1841-1929) - commemorates his philanthropic work. He is responsible for many of London’s public parks - and the Green Belt around London. He was also the man behind the creation of Empire Day, believing fervently in the benefits of imperialism.

Lancaster Gate W2
Tube: Lancaster Gate

Gordon of Khartoum

Famous for his defence of Shanghai during the Opium Wars, the devoutly Christian General Gordon came unstuck in the Sudan. Trying to quell an Islamic uprising, he was hacked to pieces in Khartoum on January 26,1885, becoming a major icon of Empire to the  Victorian public.

Victoria Embankment SW1
Tube: Embankment

Robert Clive of India

Clive (1725-1774), was central to the creation of British India. Expelled from three schools (he ran a protection racket) he was sent to India where his talents and bravery found  an outlet in the political and military game of divide and conquer. Plagued by ill-health and depression, he committed suicide at the age of 49.

Clive Steps, King Charles St SW1
Tube: Westminster

Admiral Arthur Phillip

Phillip (1738-1814) was the man chosen to set up Britain’s first penal colony in Australia, when he was appointed the first Governor of New South Wales. He founded the city of Sydney and his farming background - and pragmatism - was essential to the colony’s survival in its first few years.

Watling Street EC4
Tube: St Paul’s

Boadicea

Boudica was a queen of the Iceni tribe who led an uprising against the Roman Empire in AD61 and razed London. Perhaps ironically, her myth was built up at the height of the British Empire - during the reign of Queen Victoria - with this statue by Thomas Thornycroft erected in 1905. Note her chariot has no reins.

Westminster Bridge WC2
Tube: Westminster

Captain James Cook

‘Circumnavigator Of The Globe Explorer Of The Pacific Ocean He Laid The Foundations Of The British Empire In Australia And New Zealand Charted The Shores Of Newfoundland And Traversed The Ocean Gates Of Canada Both East And West.’

Admiralty Arch SW1
Tube: Charing Cross

Imperial War Museum

Founded in 1917 to document the British Empire’s involvement in World War I and housed in the former Royal Bethlem lunatic asylum (‘Bedlam’). The museum is now dedicated to the history and effects of all 20th-century warfare, which it brings to life with regular new exhibitions.

Lambeth Road SE1
Tube: Lambeth North
www.iwm.org.uk

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