Point of Interest

Trafalgar Square

England / Europe

Originally the courtyard of the Great Mews Stabling of the Whitehall Palace, in 1812 architect John Nash (1752 – 1835) redesigned it as a pedestrianised space for the public. In 1838 Sir Charles Barry presented a plan to redevelop Trafalgar’s Square which included Nelsons column – a 51m tribute to Admiral Horatio Nelson designed by William Railton. Nelson was famous for winning the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, the most decisive naval engagement of the Napoleonic War. Nelson died in this battle, and become Britain’s most celebrated naval hero for ended Napoleons plans to invade England. In 1867 Sir Edwin Landseer designed the bronze lions which guard the base of Nelsons column. The fountains were built in 1845 to reduce the size of rioting crowds in the square. The imperial measures set in the Square were used by people to check their ruler accuracy after a great fire destroyed the Standards of the Imperial Units of Measure in 1834 until the UK adopted metric units of measurements in 1995. There are four plinths in the square – bronze statues of General Sir Charles James Napier, Major General Sir Henry Havelock and King George IV stand on three but due to lack of funds the fourth plinth remained empty for many years. In 1994 Chair of the Royal Society of Arts Prue Leith penned a letter requesting something be done about the empty plinth which ignited public debate. The Fourth Plinth now hosts a series of commissioned artworks by contemporary artists breathing modern life in to Trafalgar Square. 

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