Trafalgar Square from cross to column, a change of place & mood

21st October 2015
With the 210th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar, I wanted to post something online to commemorate the event. I stumbled upon various paintings showing the area of London's Trafalgar Square. Situated at the end of London’s Strand, this was a place transformed in the early years of the 19th Century to become the familiar landmark we know today. A place on every tourist's itinerary who visits London. But Trafalgar Square wasn't always there, of course. Prior to that, the area looked very different indeed.

I put together a montage of how the it was before and after the development. It was known as ‘Charing Cross’ up to and including the Georgian era, and underwent a major transition during the Regency. The project was initially marked out by the architect John Nash. The famous central monument, however, Nelson’s Column, came a little later, in 1843. This was separately designed by William Railton. Additional items of sculpture, notably the splendid bronze lions of Edwin Landseer, were also added in Victorian times.
double image showing changes in London area of Trafalgar Square in Victorian times
The area, before and after as seen in paintings by James Pollard and Henry Pether (click to enlarge).
The montage illustrates the astonishing changes that came about in London at this time, not least in the transition from the energy of the vibrant, unselfconscious Georgian era, to the solemn, commemorative ‘Gothic’ atmosphere of the Victorian age that followed.
shilouette of lion, sculptured monuments in London's Trafalgar Square
Edwin Landseer's lion sculpture.

Admiral Horatio Nelson

The battle of Trafalgar in 1805, at which Admiral Nelson died, was of massive importance to the British at the time. And to much of Europe. It put a halt to any ambitions Napoleon might have had of dominating the seas or of invading England from France. Every nation celebrates its heroes. Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) has certainly been no exception. And when much of the central area of a great city is altered to mark his passing, that hero must be worthy indeed.
19th Century naval officer in regalia and bicorn hat, Admiral Nelson
Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, by Lemuel Francis Abbott.
Authored by Robert Stephen Parry

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