HL Deb 19 February 1883 vol 276 cc283-6

asked what were the intentions of Her Majesty's Government respecting the disposal of the statue of the Duke of Wellington that had been removed from the top of the arch at Hyde Park Corner? The considerations that should guide the selection of sites for statues were the appropriateness of their style to surrounding objects, the associations connected with the locality, and a good point of view for spectators. This realistic portrait of the Duke and his charger had been out of harmony with the classic arches and the Greek statue of Achilles, and was only well seen from the bedroom windows of the late Duke. At the edge of the Parade opposite to the Horse Guards it would he associated with the Head-quarters of the Army, and the place where Her Majesty welcomed her troops from Egypt, and where military trophies already stood. There it would be well seen by the passers-by. He hoped that position might be carefully considered.


in reply, stated that it had been definitely decided not to replace the statue of the Duke of Wellington on the arch when reconstructed; but no decision had yet been arrived at as to its ultimate destination. Until the statue was upon terra firma, and until the site of the present arch had been cleared, it was impossible to form an estimate of the merits of the statue itself or its suitability to any of the available sites. As the House knew, the First Commissioner of Works had nominated a very important Committee to advise the Government upon the subject. This Committee was composed of the Duke of Wellington, as representing the family; Lord Hardinge, a Trustee of the National Gallery and of the National Portrait Gallery, and a great authority on art; Sir Frederick Leighton, President of the Royal Academy; Mr. Boehm, the eminent sculptor; Mr. Fergusson, whose writings and judgment on architecture were well known; and Mr. Mitford, the Secretary of the Office of Works, possessing great experience. In the selection of this Committee the public would have a guarantee that the advice given would carry great weight, seeing that the highest authorities on artistic matters were represented, while the presence of the Duke as one of its Members would give the assurance that nothing would be done which would be distasteful to the family of the illustrious General. The Committee did not propose to meet until the works were in a sufficiently forward state to enable them to give sound advice. In these circumstances, the House would see that at present it was impossible to discuss the merits or demerits of any of the particular sites which had been proposed. The whole question would be very thoroughly considered in all its bearings. What had been said by the noble Lord would be well weighed; but it was far better to leave the Committee to form an unprejudiced decision.


said, it might not be known to those who had not lived as long as himself that it was gratifying to the feelings of the late Duke that the statue was placed near Apsley House. The matter should be carefully considered; but he thought that no better place for the statue would be found than opposite Apsley House. It was there in one of the great thoroughfares by which London was approached, and it would be far more seen there than it would on the Parade at the Horse Guards, while it was far more in harmony with the surrounding buildings than it would be at the Horse Guards, where it could only stand awkwardly in relation to all the things about it.


said, that so far as associations were concerned, no place could be more appropriate than the Horse Guards, where, however, the space was unfortunately so limited that he could not conceive where it was to stand if it were put there. It would be a great mistake to put it where there could not be a considerable amount of open space around it, for otherwise justice could not be done to it. At the Horse Guards, the only place where space could be obtained was in the gardens in front; but the public would object to the statue being in the gardens to which they had not access. If the statue were put on one side or another in the space open to the public it would present a most extraordinary appearance, and very much spoil the place, while if it were placed in the centre of the open space it would entirely preclude the possibility of having a parade such as it was usual to have on Her Majesty's Birthday, and some other special occasions. He had no wish whatever to say that the Horse Guards was not a suitable place for the statue, for the Duke might be said to have more or less created the Horse Guards and the present Army of England; but the position would not be suitable on account of the space being so limited, and he could not help thinking that it would be more gratifying to the family that the statue should remain nearer to Apsley House.