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 

Requiem Eucharist

In Memory of Olive and David Walker. 

By some quirk of fate I spotted a post about a Requiem Mass to be held at Tewkesbury Abbey on the 3rd of November. I had been wanting to attend a service at the Abbey for quite some time and never really managed to do so until tonight. It is possible that I was supposed to do this as part of the grieving process and that was why I saw the post. At any rate I was there at 4.35pm to participate in the service. 

The Abbey is a different place at night, it is well lit and cloudy with incense smoke but still as beautiful as ever. The image was taken long before everybody had arrived though, it is not that the Abbey was empty, it is just that it has a lot of space. 

I love the sound of those large organs and the soaring voices of the choir. The music on this evening was by Gabriel Faure who completed it in 1887 and is sometimes known as “A Requiem Without a Last Judgement”.  

I was raised an Anglican and somewhere in the dusty mists of my mind is the Communion Service; I had last taken Communion in 1993, and even then I somehow knew most of it by heart. I suspect the service is one of those familiar things that lives in you but which comes forward when the organ bursts into life. 

I was not only remembering my mother at this time, but also my father who passed away on 7 November 1981. They have finally been re-united after so many long years and I am glad that we were at least able to place her ashes where his are interred. 

Once the prayers had been read we were able to take communion at the Altar rail. I have been in so many of these cathedrals and abbeys that the altar rail does not hold that sense of awe as it did when I was confirmed way back in 1974 or 1975? (I must look it up). The ceremony in these churches follows and age old ritual and coming from South Africa I could easily follow it as it was literally the same service. Once Communion was taken the opportunity was given for members of the congregation to light a candle in memory of those who had passed on. I had lit one before the service started but had also lit one on the 6th of last month. 

And then we were finished and the procession filed out and so did the congregation. I felt better having done this, and I would like to attend another service at the Abbey when I can, I have not found religion, its just that I am still working through closure, its just part of the process. 

DRW © 2019. Created 03/11/2019

Merchant Navy Day

The 3rd of September is commemorated as Merchant Navy Day in the UK, and as such we commemorate the men and women of the Merchant Navy who lost their lives in the service of their country. Their contribution to the war effort is often forgotten but it was a vital one. Sadly the records that are held barely identify them and we often know very little about their service and their lives.  The main Merchant Navy Memorial is the Tower Hill Memorial in London and it commemorates more than 35,800 casualties from both World Wars who have no known grave. 

Tower Hill Memorial, London

That is why it is very important that on this day we fly the Red Duster in their honour.

The images below are all taken at the National Memorial Arboretum.

Hospital Ships Memorial
SS City of Benares Plaque
Arctic Convoys Memorial

The Liverpool Merchant Navy Memorial

DRW © 2019. Created 02/09/2019