Memorial to Queen Victoria's much-loved uncle Leopold, who became the first king of the Belgians. He died in 1865. The commission for his monument went to the sculptor Susan Durant (1827-1873), a favourite at court at this time — particularly of the queen's eldest daughter Vicky, who took "deliberate steps to promote Durant's career" (Hurtado 151). The monument, "in memory of the uncle who held a father's place in her affections" (qtd. in Malden) was installed below the tower of Christ Church, Esher, Surrey, in 1867. This is the parish church for Claremont, where Victoria had often stayed with her uncle in her childhood; while living there, Leopold had been an important benefactor.
Closer view of Leopold and the mourning angels.
The monument shows Leopold recumbent on a couch, wearing the Order of the Golden Fleece, with one hand resting on a lion, and with angels mourning over him. The text in the upper corners reads (right) "Absent in Body" and (left) "Present in Spirit." From 1882, Claremont would become the home of Leopold's mamesake, Victoria's youngest son, and there is a memorial to him in this church too, an elaborately framed bust in a niche in the north aisle, this one being the work of local sculptor Francis John Williamson.
Photographs and commentary by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL or cite the Victorian Web in a print document. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]
Hurtado, Shannon Hunter. Genteel Mavericks: Professional Women Sculptors in Victorian Britain. Oxford, Bern etc: Peter Lang, 2012.
Malden, H. E., ed. "Parishes: Esher." In A History of the County of Surrey. London, 1911: 447-451. British History Online. Web. 21 May 2016.
Mee, Arthur. The King's England: Surrey, London's Southern Neighbour. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1938.
Nairn, Ian, and Nikolaus Pevsner, rev. Bridget Cherry. The Buildings of England: Surrey. 2nd ed. London: Penguin, 1971.
Last modified 21 May 2016