Statues in the Palace

When the Palace was being rebuilt by the architect Charles Barry, a Commission was set up in 1841 under Prince Albert to encourage as many contemporary artists as possible to beautify the building. Barry, however, was not asked to become a member of this committee.

Due to their literary and historical ideals, the commissioners encouraged the submission of works covering the whole field of English history. Artists were invited in 1843, for instance, to send in models for sculpture, specimens of carved work in wood, stained glass, frescoes and ornamental metal work. Barry's vision, on the other hand, was largely practical, as he was more concerned about the aesthetic and visual elements within the Palace. However, the commissioners won the day, and the original statues in the Palace's interior thus bore little relation to scale, style and floor-space of the building they were destined to decorate.

Some three hundred statues were also commissioned to decorate the main facades of the building, representing saints and sovereigns from the Norman conquest to Queen Victoria.

Later additions

The Palace has also seen the addition of many new statues over the subsequent years. The Prince's Chamber contains a large white marble statue of Queen Victoria holding a sceptre and laurel crown. She is flanked by the figures of Justice (who holds a sword and balance) and Mercy (offering an olive branch), while the panels of the pedestal represent commerce, science and industry.

Sir Charles Barry himself is commemorated by a large marble statue at the foot of the main staircase leading to the Committee floor.

Along both sides of St Stephen's Hall are statues of great Parliamentarians and paintings on the theme of 'The Building of Britain'. These include the statues of Viscount Falkland, Charles James Fox and William Pitt (the Younger).

Some later additions to the statues in the Palace are the modern bronzes of Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George, Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher in the Members' Lobby, and a marble statue of William Gladstone in the Central Lobby.

Biography

You can access a biography of

Charles Barry

from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for free, online, using your local library card number (includes nine out of ten public libraries in the UK) or from within academic library and other subscribing networks.