Art Movements – Sailor Bill Goes To Greenwich
Another of our series about sculpture that has moved places, inspired by the return of Prince Albert’s statue to Holborn Circus
With William IV only being on the throne for seven years there seem to be fewer statues of him than other monarchs. There is a small statue of him in the entrance to the Old Bailey, one in Plymouth Dockyard and a nice statue in Montpellier Gardens Cheltenham. His most prominent memorial should have been on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square but due to funding problems it remained empty, leaving London with a prominent site for contemporary art instead. However his largest memorial can now be found in Greenwich – although it wasn’t originally sited there.
The statue depicts William IV in naval uniform of a high admiral, with the star of the Order of the Garter. William served in the navy in the West Indies and although he saw no combat acquired the nickname Sailor Bill. He was best man at Lord Nelson’s wedding. With the areas maritime connections, Greenwich is probably an appropriate location but the statue wasn’t moved to Greenwich until 1936, having been originally sited at the junction of King William St and London Bridge since 1844. The Statue had become an impediment to traffic in the City, and the final straw came when a pedestrian subway was being built beneath it, and it was feared that the weight of the statue would be too much. You can see a great picture of the statue in its original location on Peter Berthoud’s website.
More art movements soon.