Richly adorned with artistic and historical references, this tribute to Prince Albert represents Gothic Revival architecture at its most ornate.
The Albert Memorial is located in Kensington Gardens in central London. One of London’s most ornate monuments, this towering Gothic Revival-style memorial was commissioned by Queen Victoria after her husband, Prince Albert, succumbed to typhoid in 1861. Today, the memorial serves not only as a tribute to a beloved husband, but a fascinating snapshot of the triumphs of the Victorian age and the incredible reach of the British Empire.
Sir George Gilbert Scott, one of Britain’s most prolific architects, designed the memorial, which took over 10 years to complete. It stands as both a homage to Albert’s interests and to the achievements of Victorian England. Walk around the memorial’s four-sided perimeter to admire the marble statues representing Britain’s once great empire. Animals and cultural references representing Europe, Asia, Africa and America stand at each corner of the memorial.
The Frieze of Parnassus surrounds the pavilion base. The frieze depicts 169 life-size sculptures of historically significant poets, painters, musicians, sculptors and architects, all grouped according to discipline. At each corner of the frieze, look for the allegorical sculpture groupings depicting the triumphs of agriculture, commerce, engineering, and manufacturing. Let your gaze rise skyward to the memorial’s spired canopy, filled with statues of angels and virtues. A bronze statue of Prince Albert sits beneath the spired pavilion, facing south. Follow his gaze across Kensington Road to the Royal Albert Hall, another tribute to the much-loved prince.
The public is not granted access beyond the memorial’s ornate fence, however, tours are offered on the first Sunday of the month between March and December. Step through the gates with an informative guide and examine the friezes and statues up close for around 50 minutes. Tour times and details are available on the Royal Parks website.
Albert Memorial is centrally located at the southern end of Kensington Gardens and is close to other major sites, such as Kensington Palace, the Diana Memorial Fountain and Harrods. Kensington Park has many amenities and is easily accessible by Tube or bus. Visit year-round from morning until dusk.