Thinking About Lions

And there I was: thinking about the many lion shaped sculptures I have seen in the UK. I can safely say I have seen more of them than I have seen of the real thing back in South Africa!  I decided to try to collate these sightings into one post so hold onto your hat as I reveal: Rooooaaaaaaaarrrrrr!  Incidentally, there is an excellent page by Bob Speel that features more lions than I have seen so far and I would like to acknowledge their work.

The first three are not found in the run of the mill tourist trap, but rather in cemeteries. 3 of the Magnificent Seven garden cemeteries in London have lions as memorials.

Nero the Lion (upper image) adorns the grave of George Wombwell in Highgate Cemetery (west section) 

While the Bostock Lion (image below) may be found in Abney Park Cemetery He adorns the grave of  Frank C Bostock

The un-named King of the Beasts may be found in Brompton Cemetery, and he rests atop the grave of John “Gentleman” Jackson,  a renowned bare-knuckle fighter and self-defence teacher. 

On a large granite plinth beside Westminster Bridge on the South Bank of the Thames we will find the “South Bank Lion“,  (also known as the Red Lion), it is a Coade stone sculpture of a standing male lion cast in 1837. It has stood at the east end of Westminster Bridge in London, to the north side of the bridge beside County Hall, since 1966.  It was sculpted by William Frederick Woodington and was originally mounted on the parapet of James Goding’s Lion Brewery on the Lambeth bank of the River Thames. 

Our next four lions live in Trafalgar Square where they endure the hordes of selfie taking tourists.  Oddly enough I have never really photographed them as they are usually festooned with people. The bronze lions were sculpted by Sir Edwin Landseer and although part of the original design, were only added in 1867. Each lion weighs seven tons and were not finished until nearly 30 years after the square opened.

Of course there are not only lion statues but lions do feature in the mooring rings on the Victoria Embankment.

The Tower of London Menagerie was also illustrated by 3 lions (1 lion and a pair of lionesses) that I saw when I visited London in 2015. I am not sure whether this was a permanent installation at the Tower of London though as the statues did look as if they were made from chicken wire. However they do appear on the Google Earth 2019 image of the area where I saw them and were made by Kendra Haste in 2010.  13 galvanised wire sculptures depict  a family of lions, a polar bear, an elephant and a baboon troupe that commemorate some of the inhabitants of the Menagerie.  Incidentally  the first record of a lion in England was in 1240, referring to the upkeep of “the King’s lion”.  

 Moving away from London we pause at Reading where we find the most impressive of the lot:

Forbury Gardens in the city of Reading  is a pretty one, with a bandstand and lots of trimmed grass and pathways. It is also home to a very special memorial:

“This monument records the names and commemorates the valour and devotion of XI (11) officers and CCCXVIII (318) non-commissioned officers and men of the LXVI (66th) Berkshire Regiment who gave their lives for their country at Girishk Maiwand and Kandahar and during the Afghan Campaign MDCCCLXXIX (1879) – MDCCCLXXX (1880).” “History does not afford any grander or finer instance of gallantry and devotion to Queen and country than that displayed by the LXVI Regiment at the Battle of Maiwand on the XXVII (27th) July MDCCCLXXX (1880).” (Despatch of General Primrose.)

Known as the Maiwand Lion, it is a very big memorial, and definitely the largest lion I have ever seen. I battled to photograph it too because of the changeable weather when I was there. 

There are 4 lions outside St George’s Hall in Liverpool that flank the cenotaph, Unfortunately I did not photograph them but you can see them in the image below. (image is 1500×503)

Liverpool is also home to the  oldest Chinese community in Europe and boasts a pair of “Guardian Lions” who stand watch on either side of the Chinese Arch that is the entrance to Chinatown .  An additional pair stand guard on either side of  Great George Street. 

 

A lady with a lion is also featured on the statue of Colin Campbell (Lord Clyde) in Waterloo Place, London. On  the base of the pillar sits an allegorical woman – said to be the Empress of India, Britannia, or by others, Victory – lounging on a reclining lion. The sculpture is by Carlo Marochetti and was erected at Waterloo Place in 1867  The funny thing is that I do not have a photograph of the statue but only this part of the base. 

Make no mistake, this is not an exhaustive list of all the iterations of lions in the United Kingdom, if/when I finally do get back to London I will try to get images of the other lions mentioned on the relevant page by Bob Speel . I do have poor images of the one lion at the base of the Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace but will rather try get all four when next I am in London. The problem with that memorial is the crowds of people and the potential for lousy weather.  The 4 bronze figures with lions, represent Peace (a female figure holding an olive branch), Progress (a nude youth holding a flaming torch), Agriculture (a woman in peasant dress with a sickle and a sheaf of corn) and Manufacture (a blacksmith in modern costume with a hammer and a scroll).

There is one last lion that I thought I would add in just for fun.

The British and Irish Lions

And that concludes my brief look at the lions in London and elsewhere.  I hope to add to this at some point, but I do not guarantee anything; besides, there are dragons in London that are equally interesting.

DRW © 2020. Created 09/06/2020 

Crime and Punishment

In my many travels throughout the UK I have often encountered oddments that relate to “Crime and Punishment”, many of these would be considered barbaric in our politically correct times, but way back then it was a total different ballgame. The most obvious artefacts that tend to stick out are the village stocks. I have seen 4 sets (that I can remember) and they are interesting curiosities that are often very old. 

The stocks at St Nicholas Parish Church in Ashchurch, Gloucestershire

You have to admit they look like reasonably benign articles of punishment, but the opposite is true. Attitudes were very different in those olde days, when you were bunged in the stocks it was not seen as some idyllic rest period. Perpetrators locked into them faced all manner of additional torments, ranging from weather, children, drunks and the real threat of mob justice. You could also have your clothing stolen and of course could have been pelted with vegetables, faeces, dead animals and of course verbal and physical abuse would have been the norm, especially if you were a well known miscreant. 

The stocks in Evesham, Worcestershire

However, many of the people bunged into the stocks were anti-social, or thieves or somebody on the receiving end of a grudge, and of course pissing off (and on) the church/mayor/town hall/local lord etc. would have brought the might of the “law” onto your head.  They were also not restricted to men; women and children could also spend some time being on the end of justice. There was no such thing as “extenuating circumstances” either. 

The stocks in Winchombe

England’s Statute of Labourers 1351 prescribed the use of the stocks for “unruly artisans” and required that every town and village erect a set of stocks. Sources indicate that the stocks were used in England for over 500 years and have never been formally abolished. 

Stocks in Minstead in the New Forest, Hampshire

Another chance discovery I made in Salisbury one morning on my way to work really left me scratching my head. 

Some investigation revealed a plaque close by, although it was not all that easy to read.

And of course Salisbury also had a reminder of the bad olde days affixed on the side of one of the walls of a local building

And in Lichfield I spotted the plaque below.

and I spotted the following in Oxford:

Of course London has a grim past and if you know where to look it is often right in public view. One of the many macabre sights that I recall was close to Tower Hill Merchant Navy Memorial.

 

I was recently in Liverpool and was able to visit the local holding cells associated with the Assizes court that was in the building and it was an interesting aside to my visit. But I also came up close and personal with a items used in punishment, namely:

A whipping chair
A flogging frame

Birching was a common punishment handed down to young offenders, and a flogging with a light cane or a heavy cane was actually quite a common punishment in South Africa until it was abolished too. The barbarity of the act of flogging or caning should really be seen from the position of the one being caned or flogged or the person committing the act.  

Women were often on the receiving end of punishment, and the use of the “Brank” or “Scold’s Bridle” was an easy way to silence what were seen as nagging women, it was really about power though and subjugation of females. I have seen two examples in the Clink Prison Museum in London, but it is doubtful that this pair were ever used and they are probably reproductions. 

Children were equally at risk from “the law” and there is a good example in the old castle/prison in Oxford:

Julia Ann Crumpling, aged 7,  was sentenced to seven days’ hard labour at the prison in 1870. She allegedly had stolen a pram from a Mr and Mrs Edmund Smith of Witney, who had left it outside while going into a shop. She would have been housed in the B wing that housed women and teenagers.  Did she just make a stupid mistake by taking the pram? or was she really just a rebellious child? and what effect did the sentence have on her? Back in those days prison was not seen as a holiday rest camp and justice was served to young and old. The Victorians believed that prisons should deter people from committing crimes, with the punishment of hard labour dished out to crush inmates’ spirits.  You did the crime you did the time!

So far I have managed to visit 3 prisons/jails in the UK:

And they have all been grim places, and as a curious visitor I got to go home at the end of the day whereas this was “home” to the inmates. Many of those inmates were there because they deserved to be there; unfortunately rehabilitation is not always as successful as the authorities would like to admit.  

The military however had it’s own set of rules known as the “The Kings Regulations” and they were the official policy and were used as the  basis for “justice” in the military and to “enforce discipline”. A number of men were “shot at dawn” for offences relating to military law, and in many cases the trials were a travesty of justice.  Of over 20,000 who were found guilty of offences carrying the death penalty, 3000 soldiers received the death penalty and 346 were carried out.  The circumstances of many of the offences were often ignored by those who sat on the courts martial, and often the accused would have very little inkling of what was waiting for him once he faced the wrath or indifference of those in charge.

The British Army also used what was known as “Field Punishment # 1” which consisted of the convicted man being placed in fetters and handcuffs or similar restraints and attached to a fixed object, such as a gun wheel or a fence post, for up to two hours per day. Of course that was preferable to being shot at dawn. As an aside, the former South African Defence Force was well known for it’s iron discipline, and while there were no cases of execution by firing squad there were many cases of abuse by detention barracks staff and of course daily abuse by “instructors” of national servicemen. It was rumoured that there was an unofficial acceptable body count allowed for in training.  Had the SADF been allowed to use a firing squad you can bet they would have!

Our so called “liberal world” cringes at the idea of shooting or flogging anybody, but in some parts of the world these are still in daily use. 

However, in some “civilised countries” the “rights” of the offender seem to be overtaking those of the victim, and in the UK even slaps on the wrist would bring out a horde of lawyers and organisations dedicated to preventing the punishment of those found guilty of crime. Had poor little Julia Ann Crumpling been around in 2019 she would have probably have been sent for counselling and paid compensation for having been arrested because she was a minor. The people who left the pram outside would have been fined for littering.     

Crime will always be with us. There will always be those who consider themselves above the law,  and of course those who get a vicarious thrill from violence and murder. There will always be corrupt politicians and policemen, and alcohol and drugs will always remove any sense of right or wrong when used incorrectly. Thankfully a lot of the draconian punishment has fallen by the wayside and a lot fewer innocent people end up incarcerated, and these relics from bygone ages should serve as a reminder that in many 3rd world countries things are still in the dark ages and justice can be harsh and the dungeons of the past are still the dungeons of the present  

DRW © 2018-2019. Finally completed 13/07/2019

Remembering the Titanic 2019

Every year in mid April we commemorate the loss of the Titanic.  It is a well known story that has been analysed, filmed, written about, speculated on and done to death. My own interest in the ship came about when I read about the spot where she had gone down, that ships avoided for fear of encountering bodies. In later years I would raid the local libraries for books about the ship and try my best to obtain a model of her.  I have however lost my interest in the ship and now concern myself with other things because realisically there is not much more that I can add to the story of the ship and its people.

The last interesting discovery that I made was in Liverpool where the Transatlantic trade was dominated by the Mauretania and her sister. Titanic and her sisters would not use that city as a base, but rather use Southampton. However, Titanic was registered in Liverpool and there is a memorial to her in that city. 

The memorial commemorates the 244 engineers who lost their lives in the disaster. It was designed by Sir William Goscombe John and constructed circa 1916 and is a Grade II* listed building.

The memorial is inscribed:

IN HONOUR OF

ALL HEROES OF THE

MARINE ENGINE ROOM

THIS MEMORIAL WAS ERECTED

BY INTERNATIONAL INSCRIPTION

MCMXVI 

and

THE BRAVE DO NOT DIE

THEIR DEEDS LIVE FOREVER

AND CALL UPON US

TO EMULATE THEIR COURAGE

AND DEVOTION TO DUTY

More images of the memorial are available on the relevant page at Allatsea

While it is easy to remember the passengers who lost their lives in the disaster; the crew tend to get forgotten, especially the men who remained at their posts right up till the end. Irrespective though, over 1500 people lost their lives on this day in 1912 in a disaster that has somehow become the “poster boy” for maritime disasters, and the only North Atlantic liner that almost everybody knows about. 

DRW © 2019 – 2020. Created 15/04/2019