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Robert Napier - Queen's Gate, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 30.075 W 000° 10.817
30U E 695701 N 5709338
Quick Description: This equestrian statue of Robert Napier is located at the northern end of Queen's Gate at the junction with Kensington Road and opposite the Queen's Gate entrance to Kensington Gardens.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 12/31/2014 10:40:46 AM
Waymark Code: WMN5RT
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member condor1
Views: 0

Long Description:

The inscription on the front of the plinth tells us:

Robert Napier
Lord Napier of Magdala GGS GCS
Field Marshall
Constable of the Tower of London
Born 6 Dec 1810 Died 14 Jan 1890

The inscription on the rear of the plinth reads:

Erected by his countrymen
He rests in St Paul's Cathedral

The Royal Borough of Chelsea and Kensington website tells us about the Robert Napier statue:

Viewers of the magnificent equestrian statue of Robert Cornelis, 1st Baron Napier of Magdala (1810-1890) often question why the horse stands on an upward slope which appears to be unnecessary at this site. The answer is simple, it was originally installed in 1891 in Waterloo Place and was designed with an eye to the fall of the roadway in front of the statute at this location. It was moved to Queen’s Gate in 1921 to make way for the equestrian statue of Edward VII. Today, it stands in front of the recently restored ornate Queen’s Gates which lead into Kensington Gardens in right on the boundary between the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough. However, the statue is owned by English Heritage who are responsible for its maintenance.

Robert Napier was born in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and had a long and distinguished career in the British Army. He entered the Bengal Engineers in 1826, fought in the Sikh Wars from 1845-1849 and took part in the Relief of Lucknow in 1857, during the Indian Mutiny. His most famous campaign was an expedition to Ethiopia in 1868, during which he captured Magdala, thus securing the release of British captives. He was rewarded with a peerage in the same year. He later acted as Commander-in-Chief in India till 1876, then Governor of Gibraltar till 1882 and finally Constable of the Tower.

The bronze statue is the work of Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm and cost £5000. It was cast at the Morris Singer foundry. This was one of Boehm’s last works and following his death in 1890, the statue was finished under the supervision of Sir Alfred Gilbert.

It stands on a grey granite base. In 1883 Boehm sculpted a similar statue for Calcutta which originally stood on Napier Road. Passers-by in the summer of 2004 were astonished to find that the statue had turned red. This was the work of Italian born Eleonora Aguiari, a sculpture student at the Royal College of Art, for her final show. After obtaining a raft of permissions, including from the Napier family, she spent four days assisted by three colleagues carefully wrapping the statue. First a layer of cling film was applied and then a finishing layer of red, using some eighty rolls of duck tape. After ten days the statue was restored to its former state.

The British Empire website tells us about Robert Napier:

Robert Napier was born in Ceylon and educated at Addiscombe College in Croydon. At the age of 18 he was a lieutenant in the Bengal Engineers. He fought in all the major batttles of the Sikh Wars being severely wounded at Ferozeshah. On the North-West Frontier he commanded a column in the First Black Mountain Hazara Expedition in 1852 and the next year was fighting the Jowaki Afridis in the Peshawar district.

He served with Havelock and Outram at the reief of Lucknow and was active in the mopping-up campaigns in Oudh and Gwalior as the Mutiny came to an end. He was a divisional commander in the war with China in 1860, and was appointed commander-in-chief of the Bombay Army until 1867 when the British Government chose him to lead the expeditionary force to Abyssinia.

The great success of the expedition brought Sir Robert a rich harvest of rewards. He became Lord Napier of Magdala, he was thanked by Parliament and given a pension. He was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, Knight Grand Commander of the Star of India, appointed honorary Colonel of the 3rd London Rifles, made a Freeman of the City of London, an Honorary citizen of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Army in India and was a Field Marshal when he died in 1890.

Identity of Rider: Robert Napier

Name of artist: Joseph Edgar Boehm

Date of Dedication: 1891

Material: Bronze

Unusual Features: Mounted on a slope

Position: All Hooves Planted

Identity of Horse: Not listed

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