Earl of Derby

Matthew Noble sculpted Edward Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, in 1874. Three times prime minister, he is the father of the modern Conservative party. He pushed the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire and his Reform Act of 1867 gave every male householder a vote. He also translated The Iliad into blank verse.

Sir Robert Peel

Noble also sculpted this 1876 statue of Peel (1788-1850), twice prime minister. Peel limited the working hours of women and children and drastically cut the number of crimes (such as attempted suicide) that carried a death penalty. He also formed the Metropolitan Police, still often called “bobbies” and “peelers” after him.

Benjamin Disraeli

As Prime Minister, Disraeli (1804-1881) was a favourite of Queen Victoria and a bitter rival of Gladstone, leading to the split into two major parties we still have in UK. For many years this 1883 statue by sculptor Mario Raggi was decorated with primroses on April 19, the anniversary of his death, after Victoria sent a wreath of them to the funeral.

Parliament Square was laid out in 1868 by Sir Charles Barry and is famed as the site of London’s first traffic signals. Still a busy traffic island, its sculptures are an interesting - if risky to reach - tour through parliamentary history.

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Abraham Lincoln

Irish-born sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) created the original of this statue in 1887 for Lincoln Park, Chicago. This copy – a last-minute replacement for one by George Barnard (now in Manchester) – was presented to Britain by America in 1920 to mark 100 years of peace between the English-speaking peoples.

George Canning

Despite the Roman robes, Canning died in 1827, aged 57. This statue of 1832, by Richard Westmacott, was the first in Parliament Square. As an MP, Canning made his reputation as an orator in speeches against the slave trade. In 1809, he was wounded in a duel with fellow cabinet member Viscount Castlereagh.

Viscount Palmerston

The oldest man to become Prime Minister – in 1855 at the age of 70 – he walked to Westminster every day from his home in Piccadilly. A strong advocate of gunboat diplomacy and empire, he did little for his starving Irish tenants in the 1840s famine. Among his last words were: “Die, my dear doctor? That’s the last thing I shall do!”


Nelson Mandela

This stiff bronze by Ian Walters, a sculptor as notable for his politics as his art, does the South African statesman little justice. Mayor Ken Livingstone, journalist Donald Woods and film director Richard Attenborough were the three most influential figures behind this, the first statue of a Black figure in Parliament Square and one of the very few in London.

Mahatma Gandhi

Philip Jackson sculpted this bronze of ”The Father of India”, unveiled in 2007 in the presence of his grandson. It is near the statue of Winston Churchill, his bitter enemy in life, but may be a place holder until the spot is filled by a statue of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, at which time it may move to outside the Supreme Court nearby.