Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Memorial day - 11

The Buxton Memorial located in the Victoria Tower Gardens, west of the Houses of Parliament, looks more like a Victorian spaceship designed by Jules Verne than a monument erected in 1835 by Charles Buxton MP in commemoration of the Emancipation of Slaves in1834 and in the memory of his father Sir T. Fowell Buxton and those associated with him in the struggle for the abolition of slavery in the British colonies: Wilberforce, Clarkson, Macaulay, Brougham Dr. Lushington and others.

The memorial was originally erected in Parliament Square, but was removed to its present site in 1957 to mark the 150th anniversary of the 1807Act abolishing the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It received extensive restoration work in 2007, to mark the 200th anniversary of the Act.

The memorial was designed by S.S. Teulon in the then popular Gothic style. The spire is timber framed clad with enamelled sheet steel. Many techniques are used in its decoration including wrought iron work, mosaic, rosso marbled enamelled metalwork and terracotta. The memorial predates by 35 years the far larger and grandeur Gothic style Albert Memorial designed by Sir Gilbert Scott.

It now appears incongruous, and in no way exemplifies the abolition of the slave trade, but it is a perfect example of Victorian public art.

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