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 

Wallace and Gromit in Bristol

From July 2nd until September 2nd, 67 sculptures of Nick Park’s Academy Award®-winning characters Wallace, Gromit and Feathers McGraw were scheduled to hit the streets of Bristol and the surrounding area to raise money for Bristol Children’s Hospital. (The images are in the order that I found them)

Once again I ended up making detours to grab pics of the large statues that were often festooned with fans of the Aardman characters. The giant sculptures are designed by high-profile artists, designers, innovators and local talent. Unfortunately I will never get to photograph them all, but its worth showing what I did get (10 out of 67).

(5) Stellar. Designed by Laura Hallett (Park Street)
(6) Feathers McGraw. Painted by Emily Ketteringham (Wills Memorial Building)
(15) Wallace. Painted by Emily Ketteringham. (The Cenotaph in Magpie Park)
(16) Fangs McGraw. Painted by Ruth Broadway (Stanfords, Corn Str)
(17). Long John Wallace. Cascade Steps, Painted by Elaine Carr
(18) Prima Featherina. Painted by Ruth Broadway. (Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel)
(19) Gnome Sweet Gnome. Painted by Katie Wallis (College Green)
(20) The Wallace Collection. Painted by Rachel Bennett (Anchor Road)
(21) A Grand Tribute. Designed by Nick Park (Millennium Square)
(22) Oceans 1: Deep Blue. Designed by the Faculty of Engineering at University of Bristol (We the Curious)
(23) Feathertron 3000 Designed by JamFactory X Jimmy 2 Eggs (Bristol Energy Hub)
(24) Honeydew. Designed by the Yogscast (Narrow Quay)
(25) Bristol’s Own. Designed by Susan Webber (Queens Square)
(26) Bristol in Bloom. Designed by Ella Masters. (St Mary Redcliffe)
(28) Gromitronic. Designed by Renishaw (M Shed)
(29) Alex the Lion. Designed by DreamWorks (Museum Square, M Shed)
(30) Space Oddi-tea. Designed by Cary’s Ink. (Wapping Wharf)
(31) Wallambard. Designed by Tim Miness. (SS Great Britain)
(37) Fromage McGraw. Designed by Peter Lord. (Quakers Friars)
(39) Boss. Designed by Wes Anderson (Showcase Cinema de Lux)
(40) Tropi-Canis. Designed by Maria Burns (House of Fraser)
(41) One in a minion. Designed by Illumination (Bristol Marriott City Centre)
(43) Gromit , designed by Nick Park. Location: Temple Quay
(44) Game of Cones. Painted by Rachel Bennett (Bristol Temple Meads Station)

There were two more sculptures that were mobile and more difficult to see, one was on a bus and the other on one of the ferries which I was fortunate enough to photograph when I arrived.

In December of 2018 I also found another Gromit statue in a building close to Arnos Vale Cemetery, unfortunately I cannot identify which it is. However, it may originate from the first Gromit Unleashed campaign that was run in 2013.

In 2015, while visiting the Clifton Suspension Bridge, I spotted some Shaun The Sheep statues, and they too were on the fund raising trail for the Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity. There were 120 of these statues and they were auctioned off for the charity. 

A Sheep’s Eye View. Clifton Observatory
Isambaard (Clifton Suspension Bridge)

Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep are the work of Nick Park and Aardman Animation. 

DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created 23/07/2018. More images added 04/08/2018

Loving Liverpool (3) Museum of the Moon

In which we go looking for Abercromby Square.

Having checked into my hotel and showered I still had some time to kill as the sun was still high and bedtime was nowhere close. Marked on my navigation was “Abercromby Square” which sounds kind of obscure but there was a reason for my interest. 

Liverpool was home to members of the Chavasse family, the most famous of whom was Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse. VC*, MC. while his father was the second Bishop of Liverpool. I was keen to find the place because there was a statue of him in the square. It was more like a pilgrimage though, and one of the many reasons I was visiting this city originally. Unfortunately my street map did not show the square, but I knew it was close to the Catholic Cathedral so technically should not be too difficult to find as long as I went up the right street in the first place. Unfortunately I did not and while I could see the cathedral I could not work out where the park was on the ground in relation to it.

Catholic Cathedral

My mapping app did not work either because it would never refresh and if you tried to refresh it manually all you would end up was a “mapping app has stopped functioning” error. Bah humbug! I decided that my best course was to try the roads at the front of the cathedral (this is the back) and see what happens. Fortunately a kind hearted soul took pity on me and pointed down the road to a green area 3 blocks away. Huzzah! the destination was in sight. 

Abercromby Square

The statue was not in the square but on the pavement next to it, and it was such a moment to see that statue. 

The statue was engraved:

“Liverpool Heroes.
This scuplture commemorates the life and death of captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse
VC and Bar, MC, RAMC. Medical officer to the 10th battalion (Liverpool Scottish)
King’s Liverpool Regiment, and fifteen other recipients of the Victoria Cross who were
born in Liverpool and whose names appear around the base

Captain Chavasse, son of the second Bishop of Liverpool, was the only man to be
awarded two Victoria Crosses during World War I, and died on 4th August 1917 of
wounds received in Flanders

Several of the other’s also made the supreme sacrifice. May this memorial remind
us all of the debt we owe to such men.

“Greater love hath no man than this
that a man lay down his life for his friends”

The names around the base are:

The sculptor is Tom Murphy of Liverpool

It was time to move on. The Catholic Cathedral was closed so I started to head towards the direction of town. Unfortunately for me, the Anglican Cathedral loomed close by at the end of a street. It just seemed so close. 

The sun was still shining and I had some time to kill so I thought I would head down in that direction and have a quick recce before returning the next day. There were really two spaces I wanted to visit at what is known as “St James Mount”:- the first was the actual cathedral, and the second was a cemetery known as St James Garden (aka St James Cemetery). Situated behind the cathedral it was created below ground level in a former quarry that was in use till 1825, and until 1936 was used as the Liverpool city cemetery and contrary to what you would think, the cemetery is not associated with the cathedral. It is a very beautiful place and I was very glad that I saw it in the evening light.

I went in through the gate by the Oratory, which is  the former mortuary chapel of the cemetery. It was designed in 1829 in classic Greek architecture by John Foster Jnr, as a re-creation of a Greek temple. 

The Oratory

It was all downhill from here…

Once flat ground was reached I was in a quiet park, dotted with headstones, flowers, pathways, mausoleums and trees. People were sitting around and enjoying the coolness of the air, others were walking their dogs or just strolling. It was hard to believe that you were actually in a cemetery that held close to 60 000 people. 

The domed cupola in the last image is the Huskisson Monument, it was designed to house the statue of William Huskisson who holds the distinction of being the world’s first reported railway passenger casualty; when he was run over and fatally injured by George Stephenson’s pioneering locomotive engine Rocket. The statue is no longer there, but the monument is.  A mineral spring also flows through this area (the Chalybeate) although I did not see it at the time.  From the flatness of the bottom of the quarry it was time to ascend. I was starting to tire and needed to make my way home so I followed the path upwards to the gate and to ground level. 

This was the back of the cathedral and even here people were enjoying the warm evening air. I really felt like staking a spot for myself but I still had a long walk ahead of me so resting was not an option at this point.

I walked past the huge building and it is a mighty, lofty, looming building. It is reportedly the largest Anglican Cathedral ever built. I came to the spot where I had entered the area and saw that the Cathedral was open so decided to pop in and have a quick look….

When I saw what was inside it my plans for heading back to the hotel went for a wobbly because there was an event going on in it called:

The Museum of the Moon.

Museum of the Moon is a new touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram. Measuring seven metres in diameter, and internally lit,  the moon features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre of the spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon’s surface*. (

I kid you not, the moon was shining in the cathedral, and it was magnificent. Photographs do not do the work justice. 

It was one of those things that children would love and adults would be amazed by. Everywhere people were taking photographs and just staring. The huge cavernous interior of the cathedral just made it so much more impressive. It was like something out of the original “Despicable Me” movie. The coloured lights on the walls of the image above is caused by the sun shining through the stained glass windows of the cathedral. I am not covering the cathedral in this blogpost but will cover it on it’s own page, these images are all about the moon….​

And having stood in awe at the moon and the cathedral I shall now turn the page and cover the cathedral on the next page.


I headed off home after a quick walk around and spent a restless night trying to get to sleep. I was bushed, but the reality is that I had accomplished all that I wanted to see and do in half a day. The only thing left was the ferry trip across to Birkenhead and of course the cathedral.   

DRW © 2018. Created 03/05/2018