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Wellington Monument by Thomas Milnes. 1848. Portland stone. Wellington Park, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, London.

The Royal Arsenal was where munitions were manufactured: guns for government service were cast at the royal foundry here until about 1870, and the introduction of steam hammers for "shaping and strengthening metal" began here in 1874, issuing in a new age of heavy industry in arms manufacture. Several enormous 70-ton bases of these hammers are preserved on the outer perimeter of the park. The inscription on the base of the statue explains that Wellington was "Master General of the Ordnance, Royal Artillery 1818-1827," so it is an appropriate enough location for the monument, which shows a piece of ordnance beneath his cloak and has cannon balls at each corner of the base.

Right: Close-up of the Duke of Wellington from the left. Left: Close-up of the Duke from the right.

This statue was first placed prominently on Tower Green by the Tower of London, but in 1863 removed to the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich, to commemorate the Duke's Master-Generalship of the Ordnance (Weinreb et al., 875; Read 93). Here it still stands, very well situated in the middle of Wellington Park. The duke seems to be shown in an emptily theatrical pose, but this effect is at least partly due to damage: he should have been holding a sword and a roll of plans ("Royal Arsenal Statue"), but these have been lost along with the tips of his fingers.

Thomas Milnes must have been very well thought of during these middle years of his career. He was given access to the Duke of Wellington's body shortly after his death in 1852, and produced the camera lucida sketch of his profile now at the National Portrait Gallery (see Sinnema xvii).

Related Material

References

Read, Benedict. Victorian Sculpture. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1982.

"Royal Arsenal Statue of the Duke of Wellington.". British Listed Buildings. Web. 29 September 2011.

Sinnema, Peter W. The Wake of Wellington: Englishness in 1852. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2006. [See Review of this book]

Weinreb, Ben, et al., eds. The London Encyclopaedia. Third ed. London: Macmillan, 2008.


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Last modified 7 October 2011