The Sexiest Statue In The Capital


Treacherous snow and ice lying on the ground today kept us inside and prevented Richard from getting his van out of his drive until mid afternoon, so I decided to visit The Streets of London. Trains were not running so this was achieved through the medium of a batch of colour slides from June 2005.

The Hilton Hotel Paddington is actually in Praed Street, on the corner of Harrow Road, WC2. Paddington Walk, revealed when the large van had passed on, was still under construction at the time I made these pictures.

Long Acre WC2 6.05

Still in WC2, Covent Garden Tube Station, opened in 1906, stands on the corner of Long Acre and James Street.

Floral Street/James Street WC2

Floral Street is at the other end of James Street. Many scooter riders have their directions perched on a board in front of them.

Carting Lane WC2 7.05

The brass number plate at 80 Strand, on the corner of Carting Lane, WC2 clearly receives regular polishing.

Arundel Street, WC2 shares a corner with Temple Place, on which is sited Temple

Underground station.

Victoria Embankment EC4 7.05

Along Victoria Embankment

Savoy Place WC2 7.05

lies Savoy Place where stands a memorial to Michael Faraday at the edge of Victoria Embankment Gardens.

Arthur Sullivan Memorial WC2 7.05

There we find another, depicting the Muse of Music, celebrating Sir Arthur Sullivan. I know my self-imposed restraint on this series of photographs is that they must contain the street sign, but on this occasion I couldn’t help myself. tells us:

‘Sitting on reclaimed land on what used to be the River Thames stands Victoria Embankment Gardens. It’s a small pocket of greenery in the West End just a stone’s throw from the waterways located beside Embankment tube station. For many workers and tourists, it’s a nice place to have lunch, but it is often passed by. As well as playing host to a café and summer lunchtime concerts, the Gardens also feature a collection of monuments to the great and good.

One such monument is the Grade II listed memorial to legendary composer Sir Arthur Sullivan. Situated in the slimmer part of the gardens nearer to the north-eastern exit, it is located looking towards The Savoy Hotel. Sullivan and his frequent collaborator, dramatist WS Gilbert were closely linked to The Savoy Theatre, which was built by their producer Richard D’Oyly Carte in 1881 using profits from their shows. Gilbert and Sullivan’s last eight comic operas premiered at The Savoy Theatre, so it is only fitting that the Sullivan memorial is so nearby. Eight years later, The Savoy hotel opened next door, also built from profits of their opera The Mikado, which had premiered at the theatre four years previously.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl

Lambeth-born and Chelsea-raised Sullivan is widely recognised as one of the greatest English composers. Although best known for his operatic collaborations with Gilbert, he also wrote many operas, orchestral works, ballets, plays and hymns, among other musical compositions alone. Among his work with Gilbert included HMS Pinafore, Patience and The Pirates Of Penzance. Following an incredibly successful career and a knighthood in 1883, Sullivan died at his London flat of heart failure on November 1900, aged 58. Despite his wishes to buried with his parents and brother at Brompton Cemetary, Queen Victoria ordered he was to be laid to rest at St Paul’s Cathedral.

© Memoirs Of A Metro Girl

Nearly three years after his death, Welsh sculptor Sir William Goscombe John’s memorial to Sullivan was unveiled in Victoria Embankment Gardens by Princess Louise on 10 July 1903. The monument features a weeping Muse of Music, who is so distraught her clothes are falling off as she leans against the pedestal. This topless Muse has led some art critics to describe the memorial as the sexiest statue in the capital. The sculpture is topped with a bust of Sullivan, with an inscription of Gilbert’s words from The Yeoman Of The Guard inscribed on the side: ‘Is life a boon? If so, it must befall that Death, whene’er he call, must call too soon.’ At the bottom of the pedestal is a mask of Pan, sheet music from The Yeoman Of The Guard and a mandolin inscribed with W Goscombe John A.R.A. 1903.

Meanwhile, if you come out the Gardens and cross the road, there is a memorial to his former writing partner Gilbert on the retaining river wall. It features a profile of the dramatist, two females, two wreaths and a shield. It reads: ‘W.S. Gilbert. Playwright and poet. His Foe was Folly, and his Weapon Wit.’ Gilbert died May 1911 after suffering a heart attack in the lake of his Harrow Weald estate while trying to rescue the artist Patricia Preece, who was 17 at the time.’

Sutton Walk SE1 7.05

This crossing in SE1 leads from Sutton Walk to Waterloo Station, which, had I gone up by the non-running train, would have carried me back to New Milton.

So slippery was it in our inclined drive that, when Richard did manage to arrive, he needed to lay a large dust sheet over the icy surface in order to carry in his tools and equipment.

He installed the extractor fan;

switched the hinges and lighting buttons of the doors of the fridge freezer, which, of course, involved drilling precise new holes;

and set it in its allocated space beside the ovens, from which he burnt off the insulation.

Plaster in various places was prepared for later smoothing.

We were so iced in this evening that it wasn’t even safe to walk along to The Royal Oak. I may not have mentioned before that we are not blessed with adequate street lighting. So it was instant vegetable soup and egg mayonnaise sandwiches for our dinner, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Doom Bar.

62 responses to “The Sexiest Statue In The Capital”

  1. Nice Pics Derrick. Thanks for sharimg. I recognize some of the places from my past time spent in London. Brought back fond memories.

  2. Egg mayonnaise is my favourite, though I base this partly on price. 🙂

    Fascinating history again – can’t help wondering what W S Gilbert was doing with a 17-year-old artist…

  3. Ah so many memories from here. Floral street is the home to London’s last Tintin shop after the one in Fulham shut some 20 years ago. Arundel street housed Deloitte (who acquired the old Arthur Andersen accountancy business following the Enron fiasco) and for whom I did a lot of property work back in the day and the 80 Strand you are showing is the back of the old Shell Mex house I think (another property deal) which Pearson Longman took over. It’s said that, as the tallest building in London in 1939 Churchill would go to the top, by the famous clock and watch the Luftwaffe come in. Love the statue; yep she’s all you say…

  4. Thank you for another London tour. That statue is wonderful!
    Sorry about your icy roads, but Richard is certainly dedicated. We’re in the midst of a nor’easter with wind and snow.

  5. Whoa! She is sexy! It is kinda sad though that her clothes fall off after the ol boy has “gone home” as they say here in the south. Hmmm, does make you wonder though as to what sort of things occurred to inspire the sculptor…. ha! 🙂 Okay, I’ll stop there.
    Thanks for sharing Derrick!

  6. Thank you for the tour of London, and smiling to myself as I perused the photo’s, thinking about all the snow that might be covering those places.

  7. Nice photos Derrick. Made me want to visit London again. Loved the statues. Even got a photo myself of the winged dragon creature. And you kitchen is moving right along. Soon it will be all ready and you can let the cooking begin again! 🙂 <3

  8. It is a beautifully sexy statue with an interesting arrangement of counterparts. I imagine walking up to admire the muse and jumping back in fright when I spot the scary face on the bottom of the pedestal.

  9. Thank you Derrick, for your reminders of the London of my 20s. Loved in particular your photo and description of the Sullivan sculpture in the Embankment Gardens. Brought back many happy memories for me.

  10. You live in style – I like the drinks with instant soup 😉.

    Anyway, I’m amazed by the sculpture of Sullivan and the muse. Not seen it before, so that was a wonderful Saturday morning treat.

  11. Another fascinating post! Your photos make me smile… the brass polisher and the guy on his scooter with that ridiculously large map screen… I also like how he looks towards the camera. That muse is quite scandalous! Lol. I did read that Sullivan had never married and had quite the roving eye, so perhaps that’s why the muse shed her clothes at his memorial and not with Gilbert’s. Very fun post! 🌹

  12. Wonderful images, Derrick, you always put a smile on my face. 🙂 The lady is indeed very good looking, bravo! 🙂
    Love Doom Bar …

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