A posh street in Westminster has a statue of Queen Anne resting against the side wall of one of the posh houses.
Today it’s one road, but originally it was two separate streets, with a wall separating them, right by the statue is today — and there’s also a noticeable change in the road width as well.
The western side was called Queens Square, and the eastern side was Park Street. The two roads were merged and renamed as Queen Anne’s Gate in 1874.
Considering its prominence and location, it’s surprising that neither the sculptor’s identity nor the exact date of the work are known, but it is thought to be the early eighteenth century. The earliest record of the statue is from 1708, in Edward Hatton’s A New View of London, but at the time it stood in the middle of the street.
It seems to have been moved to its current location sometime in the early 19th century, as it’s current placement is reported in 1814 in the Gentleman’s Magazine.
Within 50 years though, the Queen had lost her nose and right arm, and that was eventually repaired. It seems that the damage was caused by local school children thinking it was a statue of Queen Mary and throwing stones at it — so they added the inscription ANNA REGINA on the plinth during the repairs. As that seemed to work, we can presume that the naughty school children were from the posh Westminster School nearby, as they understood the Latin inscription.
There was also a dispute about who owned it, with the owner of the building it sat against claiming ownership, but it was eventually given to the Worshipful Company of Gardeners, with the proviso that the government take over its maintenance.
During WW2, the statue was surrounded by a high wall to protect it from bombs.
The statue stands on the side of number 15. This home was built in 1706 by Charles Shales, who may have been its first resident. As with the houses on this exclusive road, it’s had many notable residents, including the 6th Earl of Leicester, John Long, Bishop of Norwich, and the painter Frances Reynolds.
It also had one fictional resident – Lord Brett Sinclair (Roger Moore) in The Persuaders! The house can be seen in some episodes, with Sinclair’s Aston Martin in front of it.
The statue though looked rather dirty at the time. Now it gleams white.
Article last updated on May 25th, 2020 at 03:52 pm