West Brompton and the South Kensington Museum

Old and New London: Volume 5. Originally published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London, 1878.

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'West Brompton and the South Kensington Museum', in Old and New London: Volume 5, (London, 1878) pp. 100-117. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/old-new-london/vol5/pp100-117 [accessed 4 March 2024]

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"Uplift a thousand voices, full and sweet,
In this wide hall, with Earth's inventions stored,
And praise th' invisible universal Lord,
Who lets once more in peace the nations meet,
Where Science, Art, and Labour have outpour'd
Their myriad horns of plenty at our feet."—Tennyson.

Situation of Brompton—Its Nurseries and Flower-gardens—Cromwell or Hale House—Thistle Grove—The Boltons—Westminster and West London Cemetery—Brompton Hall—St. Michael's Grove—Brompton Grove—John Sidney Hawkins—Gloucester Lodge—The Hospital for Consumption—The Cancer Hospital—Pelham Crescent—Onslow Square—Eagle Lodge—Thurloe Place and Square—Cromwell Road—The International Exhibition of 1862—Annual International Exhibitions—A School of Cookery—Exhibition of Scientific Apparatus—The National Portrait Gallery—The Meyrick Collection of Arms and Armour—The Indian Museum—South Kensington Museum—The Raphael Cartoons—The Sheepshanks, Ellison, and Vernon Galleries—Ancient and Modern Jewellery—The Museum of Patents—The Science and Art Schools—The Royal Albert Hall—The National Training School for Music—Royal Horticultural Gardens.

Brompton, which is—or, rather, was till lately—a hamlet to the parish of Kensington, is situated on the north side of Little Chelsea, and on the west of Sloane Street. It has long been celebrated for its soft air, and for its nurseries and flower-gardens; indeed, "Brompton, with its two centuries of nurserygarden fame," writes Mr. John Timbs, "lasted to our times; southward, among 'the groves,' were the 'Florida,' the 'Hoop and Toy,' and other taverns, with tea-gardens attached; there still (1866) remains the 'Swan,' with its bowling-green." At the commencement of the present century the "village" of Brompton was considerably increased by building, and became nominally divided into two parts, termed Old and New Brompton. The latter division of the hamlet chiefly consisted of rows of houses crowded together more closely than was perhaps desirable. "Old Brompton," writes the author of the "Beauties of England and Wales," in 1816, "still retains a similitude of rural aspect, and is yet celebrated for well-cultivated nursery and garden grounds. In this part of the village," continues the writer, "are many handsome detached houses; and here is likewise a domestic building, of comparative antiquity, which requires notice. This is termed Hale House, but is often called Cromwell House, and is traditionally said to have been the residence of Oliver Cromwell. But for such a tradition there appears no sort of authority. Mr. Lysons (fn. 1) shows that this house was the property of the Methwold family during Cromwell's time; and the same writer observes that 'if there are any grounds for the tradition, it may be that Henry Cromwell occupied the house before he went out to Ireland the second time.' It appears from the register of this parish that 'Mr. Henry Cromwell and Elizabeth Russell' were married on the 10th of May, 1653; and it may be observed that General Lambert, an eminent supporter of the Cromwell family, is known to have possessed a residence near Earl's Court. Hale House is now divided into two parts, each of which is occupied by a separate family. William Methwold, Esq., who died possessed of the above house in 1652, founded, near his residence, an almshouse for six poor women."

Mr. H. G. Davis, writing on the subject of Cromwell House in Notes and Queries, gives the following version of the story as that which he had always heard:—"That on some occasion Cromwell's troop was quartered at Knightsbridge, and he one day venturing to stray along the lanes of Brompton, was met by some cavaliers who knew him, and pursued him to this house, where he was sheltered till assistance came from Knightsbridge and liberated him." Faulkner, in his "History of Kensington," describing this house, says: "Over the mantelpiece there is a recess, formed by the curve of the chimney, in which it is said that the Protector used to conceal himself when he visited this house; but why his Highness chose this place for concealment the tradition has not condescended to inform us. This recess is concealed by the wainscot, and is still used as a cupboard." Mr. Faulkner then goes on to state that, though the tradition is "very strong and universal," all documents he has consulted "seem to show that there is not the least foundation for this conjecture;" and presumes "from the marriage of Henry Cromwell having taken place in this parish, that he resided here;" and hence the whole of the story. Mrs. Samuel Carter Hall, mentioning the tradition in her "Pilgrimages to English Shrines," says:—"Upon closer investigation how grieved we have been to discover the truth. … We found that Oliver never resided there, but that his son Richard had, and was a ratepayer to the parish of Kensington some time." Even this latter statement is doubted, for, according to Dr. Rimbault, it is not recorded in the parochial books. Dr. Rimbault, in Notes and Queries, states that "the house was known as Hale House in 1596, when a rentcharge of 20s. per annum was laid upon it for the poor of Kensington parish. In 1630 it was purchased by William Methwold, Esq., of the executors of Sir William Blake, who died in that year. This gentleman seems to have been its constant occupant till the period of his death, which occurred in 1652. He is described of Hale House in his will. On May 10, 1653, immediately after his return from Ireland, 'Mr. Henry Cromwell was married to Elizabeth Russell, daughter of Sir Thomas Russell,' at Kensington Church; after which, according to Noble, 'he chiefly resided at Whitehall.' In the following year (1654) he returned to Ireland, and upon his taking leave of that kingdom, he retired to Spinney Abbey, near Soham, in Cambridgeshire, where he died in 1673. The chances of Henry Cromwell having resided at Hale House are, therefore, but slender. In 1668 Hale House appears to have been inhabited by the Lawrences, of Shurdington, in Gloucestershire; in 1682 it was in the occupation of Francis Lord Howard of Effingham, the birth of whose son is thus recorded in the parish registers:—'July 7, 1682. The Honble Thomas Howard, son of the Rt Honourable Francis, Ld Howard, Baron of Effingham, and the Lady Philadelphia, was born at Hale House, in this parish.' Hale House was still the property of the Methwold family, who, in 1754, sold it to John Fleming, Esq., afterwards created a baronet; and in 1790 it was the joint property of the Earl of Harrington and Sir Richard Worsley, Bart., who married his daughters and co-heirs." Such is the brief history of the proprietors and inhabitants of Cromwell House. It was a pleasant rural seat in 1794, when Edmund Burke's only and beloved son died there of a rapid consumption a few days after his election to Parliament. The father's hopes were blasted by the blow, and his own death followed within two years. The house itself was pulled down about the year 1853, to make room for new improvements. The site of its grounds is now marked by part of Cromwell Road.

Brompton is briefly dispatched by Priscilla Wakefield with the remark that "it is a hamlet to Kensington, and has been much recommended to invalids for the softness of the air." An extensive botanical garden, containing also a botanical library, was established here by a Mr. Curtis, in the reign of George III., and was supported by subscriptions for many years. (fn. 2)

What with its nurseries, its groves, and its pleasant detached mansions or cottages, standing apart in their own grounds, this neighbourhood, down to very recent times, presented much of the appearance of a suburban retreat.

Thistle Grove, a turning out of the Fulham Road, nearly opposite the "Queen's Elm" Hotel, covers the site of what was known a century or more ago as "Brompton Heath." Here lived Mr. John Burke, the author of the "Peerage" and the "Commoners" of England. On the west side of Thistle Grove is "The Boltons," a sort of park, comprising two neat-built rows of houses on either side of an oval-shaped inclosure, in which stands St. Mary's Church, a handsome Gothic edifice.

Further westward is the Westminster and West of London Cemetery. It covers about forty acres of ground, and was consecrated in 1840. It has a domed chapel, with semi-circular colonnades of imposing design. In the grounds is a large monument, consisting of an altar-tomb, with athlete figures, and a pompous epitaph, to the memory of Jackson, the prize-fighter, who kept the "Cock" Inn, at Sutton, near Epsom, from which he retired with a fortune, having obtained the patronage of George Prince of Wales and many leaders of the sporting world. Sir Roderick Murchison, the eminent geologist, lies buried here.

Brompton Hall, the residence of the great Lord Burleigh, which stood near Earl's Court, is described by Faulkner as retaining at that time (1829) some marks of its ancient splendour. "There was till lately," adds the author, "a grand porch at the entrance. The hall, or saloon, is a step lower than the rooms upon the same floor. The dining-room has a richly-carved ceiling of oak, displaying in the centre the rose and crown, and in its other compartments the fleur-de-lys and portcullis; and on taking down some ancient tapestry a few years since, the arms of Queen Elizabeth, carved in oak, and curiously inlaid with gold, were discovered above the chimney-piece. There are also in another room the relics of a very curious old wainscot, in small compartments."


In St. Michael's Grove lived Douglas Jerrold; and it was in his house that Charles Dickens first made his acquaintance, in or about 1835, when staying at home invalided.

Mr. J. R. Planché was living in Brompton Crescent about the year 1826; and near him, in Brompton Grove (now covered by the houses of Ovington Square), lived William Jerdan, the editor of the Literary Gazette in its palmy days. At their houses Mr. T. Crofton Croker, Tom Hood, the Rev. Dr. Croly, Miss Landon (the unfortunate "L. E. L."), used to meet constantly, to discuss the last new play or poem, and literary subjects in general. Jerdan died in June, 1869, at the age of eighty-eight, nearly twenty years after resigning his editorial chair. His Autobiography, published in four volumes, contains many pleasant notices of his contemporaries. In Brompton Grove, too, lived Major Shadwell Clarke, the hospitable friend at whose table Theodore Hook was an ever welcome guest, and where he dined the last time that he ever left his house.

In Lower Grove, Brompton, lived and died the antiquary, John Sidney Hawkins, the eldest son of Sir John Hawkins, Dr. Johnson's friend and biographer. He died about the year 1836, at an advanced age. He published several works on architectural subjects.

At Gloucester Lodge, was living, in 1809, George Canning, when he fought the duel with his colleague, Lord Castlereagh, and both before and during his premiership. Mr. Rush, in his "Court of London," gives us many accounts of his official interviews with Mr. Canning here, and also of his dinner parties, at which he met all that was illustrious and brilliant in the society of the time. While residing here, too, at a later date, Canning's son, the future Governor-General of India, was born; and here he received several visits from the Princess of Wales, whose cause he so nobly and honourably espoused.


On the north side of the Fulham Road, near Pelham Crescent, is the Hospital for Consumption. It is a beautiful Elizabethan structure, comprising a centre and wings, the width of the building being about 200 feet. It stands on a square piece of ground, about three acres in extent. The foundation-stone of the hospital was laid by the late Prince Consort in 1841. The main building accommodates 210 in-patients; and with the view of extending the operations of the charity, the committee have recently, in addition, fitted up four houses (opposite the hospital), which they have opened as the "South Branch," for the reception of male patients, thus increasing the accommodation for in-patients to nearly 250 beds, all of which are constantly in use. Applicants whilst waiting admission are also received at the "Home" in Smith Street, Chelsea. Some thousands of outpatients are also always under treatment. This hospital receives patients from all parts of the kingdom, and is almost entirely dependent on voluntary contributions, the expenditure being about £9,000 a year more than the fixed annual income. In 1849 the chapel of the hospital was founded by the Rev. Sir Henry Foulis, Bart., in memory of a near relative of the founder. This edifice consists of a nave, north and south transeptal projections, and chancel. The interior fittings of the nave are divided into classes, the first two rows of seats eastward being appropriated to the committee of management and officers of the institution. The next seats are for patients in a very weak condition, and requiring the greatest degree of ease; these sittings are therefore separated by arms. The next sittings are still wide, and the backs far apart, but without arms; the last seats, up to the west wall, are of the ordinary dimensions of the open seats in churches, for those patients who may be recovering, and who may shortly leave the institution. The whole of the interior fittings are of oak, some bearing the arms and crest of the founder. The chapel is approached from the hospital by a corridor, so that the patients may not be exposed to external air in bad weather.

On the opposite side of the road is another of those excellent institutions which minister to the most formidable "ills that flesh is heir to." This is the Cancer Hospital. The building, which was founded in 1851, is constructed of plain white Suffolk bricks, relieved with bands of red bricks, and keystones and cornices of terra-cotta. The principal ground floor, approached by a flight of steps, contains the hall and a handsome stone staircase, apartments for the house surgeon and medical officers, and wards for patients. Apparatus for heating and ventilating the building is provided—everything, in short, that is calculated to add to the comforts and assist the recovery of the patients. The late Archbishop of Canterbury, preaching on behalf of the funds of this hospital, observed, "There is no disease more pitiable than that to which this institution is specially devoted. This, therefore, is a case in which I may justly ask your liberal contributions, that the relief afforded by this hospital may more nearly approach the amount of misery it endeavours to remove."

Large property round about this neighbourhood belongs to Lord Onslow's family; Onslow Square is so named in consequence, and Cranley Place is so called after the second title of Lord Onslow.

In Pelham Crescent, died, in 1869, aged seventyfour, Mr. Robert Keeley, the comic actor. Hard by, in Onslow Square, at No. 36, Thackeray was living in 1858, when he stood his unsuccessful contest for Oxford city, and when he commenced the editorship of the Cornhill Magazine.

Eagle Lodge was at one time tenanted by Mr. Bunn, so well known as the lessee of Drury Lane Theatre. Here he used to entertain Malibran, Thalberg, De Beriot, Mr. J. R. Planché, and other friends of music and the drama.

Thurloe Place and Thurloe Square, near the junction of the Fulham, Cromwell, and Brompton Roads, are of too modern a growth to have any historic associations. Cromwell Road, a long and open thoroughfare, extending from Thurloe Square westward to Earl's Court, was doubtless so named after the Cromwellian associations connected with the neighbourhood, as described above. At the eastern end of the road, a considerable space of ground lying between it and the gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society, was the site of the International Exhibition of 1862. The site was purchased by the Royal Commissioners of the Exhibition of 1851, with a portion of the surplus money arising from the receipts of that exhibition. The edifice, which was altogether different from its predecessor in Hyde Park, was built from the designs of Captain Fowke, R.E. It was constructed chiefly of brick, and the ground plan in its general form was that of the letter L, the short limb being the annexe for the machinery in motion. It consisted of a nave and two transepts, each point of intersection at the extremities of the nave being marked by a polygonal hall, surmounted by an immense dome. The southern façade ran along the Cromwell Road, and the building had also a frontage on the east in the Exhibition Road, and on the west in Prince Albert's Road (now Queen's Gate). Between this and the Horticultural Society's boundary was a semi-detached portion of the building, comprising the departments for implements and machinery in motion, extending over an entrance by a covered way or bridge, so that this section was kept entirely separate from the main body of the building. Its entire length was only about 1,150 feet, or 700 feet shorter than its crystal prototype in Hyde Park. The external appearance of the structure was not very striking. It was massive; but its unbroken length left a feeling of painful monotony on the observer, which the enormous domes at either end, 260 feet in height and 160 feet in diameter, failed to vary. Almost in the centre of this mass of brickwork was the grand entrance or portico, built according to an Italian plan. The picture-galleries occupied the first compartment in the front portion of the building, facing the Cromwell Road, and were two in number; they were lighted by clerestory windows in the roof, and formed perhaps the most attractive feature of the Exhibition. The basement storey of this part of the building was devoted to the exhibition of carriages, carts, and other descriptions of road vehicles. Adjoining the picture-gallery, but on the ground floor, was a large space, upwards of 1,000 feet in length, glazed from end to end, which was devoted to manufactures and art productions from every country in the world. Advancing across this court, the nave was reached; this extended the whole length of the building, and was 80 feet in width, or eight feet wider than that of the Crystal Palace of 1851. The nave was 100 feet high, and was crossed at its extremities by two transepts, each 692 feet long by 85 feet in width, and 100 feet high, resembling the nave in the last two respects. At each of the points of their intersection with the nave, rose octagonal halls 160 feet in diameter, each surmounted by a magnificent glass dome 200 feet in height internally, and 250 feet externally, reaching to the top of the pinnacle. These were the largest domes ever built; St. Paul's being only 108 feet in diameter at the base, St. Peter's at Rome being 139 feet, and that of the British Museum reading-room 140 feet. The floors of these dome-covered halls being raised sixteen feet above the floor of the rest of the nave and transepts, afforded an admirable opportunity to the spectator for taking in grand views of the main lines of the building. The extreme ends of the building presented an extraordinary and beautiful appearance when viewed from the floors of these halls. At the angles of these halls were staircases, communicating with the galleries of the main building. On the side walls beneath the roof of the nave and transept were the clerestory windows, twenty-five feet high, of iron and glass, very light and elegant, which, together with the light from the glass domes, brought out in soft relief the architectural and artistic decorations. The nave and transepts were roofed in with wood, coated with felt, meeting in an angle at the centre; this roof was supported by semi-circular arches of timber, springing from iron columns, in pairs, by which the roof was supported at a height of sixty feet from the floor. A very pleasing effect was produced by the combination of the circular ribs and the angular girders carrying the roof; these double columns, girders and ribs, were repeated sixteen times in the nave, and their decorations produced fine polychromatic effects. The coup d'æil standing under either of the domes, and looking down the nave, was one of unequalled beauty; the fine proportions of the columns made the immense vista appear as if looking along a kind of iron lace-work. The columns supported on each side of the nave galleries fifty feet in width, one side commanding a view of the nave, and the other looking upon the industrial courts on the ground floor.

The principal entrance, in the Exhibition Road, was situated in the centre of the eastern transept, and led directly to the orchestra erected for the opening ceremony, under the eastern dome, which took place on the 1st of May, 1862. Space will not permit us to do more than notice a few of the most important objects here brought together. In the centre of the nave stood a trophy of small arms by the Birmingham gunmakers, flanked on either side by an Armstrong and a Whitworth gun. The Armstrong was mounted on its carriage of polished wood, and presented in every detail the delicate finish of a trinket. Indeed, the Exhibition seems to have been rich in the display of these marvellous weapons. Elaborate fountains and trophies of a more peaceful kind—such as articles of food, and animal and vegetable substances employed in manufacture, together with others of different manufactured articles—made up the miscellaneous collection. Dividing the British from the foreign portion of the nave was a huge screen in iron-work of elaborate design. At this end of the nave were some noble groups of bronze statues from various countries, and some magnificent candelabra and columns in polished jasper and porphyry from Russia. A very fine collection of Berlin porcelain manufactures was placed on raised counters under the western dome. Sèvres, Vienna, Berlin, and Dresden made great efforts to recover their lost ground in their previous competitions with the English porcelain manufacturers. The attractions of the western dome balanced very fairly the features of interest at the other end of the building. The central object was a circular stand, displaying the Prince of Prussia's collection of China, all of Berlin manufacture, which rivals the richest and most delicate Sèvres. An adjacent parterre was appropriated to the exhibition of the silver objects presented by the City of Berlin to the Princess of Prussia as a wedding gift. The great Koh-i-noor diamond was placed in the English portion of the nave near the jewellery classes, and created, doubtless, as much interest as it occasioned in 1851. Her Majesty's magnificent dessert service of Worcester porcelain was exhibited near here: it is said to eclipse the finest specimen that Sèvres, Dresden, or Vienna have yet produced.

That this second International Exhibition was a success no one will pretend to say; it is enough to admit that with the first great gathering in 1851 the charm of novelty was worn off, and that even the lapse of eleven years was not sufficient to cause a repetition of that great influx of visitors to London from every part of the civilised world, which we have already noticed.

Although the building was so substantially constructed, it was not destined to remain standing in its entirety long after the closing of the Exhibition in October. Piece by piece it gradually disappeared, till only the inner portion, which had served chiefly as refreshment departments, overlooking the gardens, was left; and this part has since been made to serve various purposes.

In 1870 it was announced that a series of annual International Exhibitions should be held here, commencing from the following year (1871), under the direction of Her Majesty's Commissioners for the Exhibition of 1851. Hitherto, as we learn from the official announcement of this series of exhibitions, the exhibition of works of Fine Art had been too much limited to the display of pictures and sculpture, dissociated from purposes of utility; and it might be doubted whether a picture on enamel or on pottery, destined to be applied to a piece of furniture, or a sculpture in wood intended for a picture-frame, however great its merits, would find any place in the Exhibitions of the Royal Academy of London, or in any of the numerous other exhibitions of the works of artists. Still less would a Cashmere shawl or a Persian carpet, the chief excellence of which depended upon its combination of colours, find in any of these exhibitions its proper place. Such a complete separation of artistic work from objects of utility might indeed be said to be only the characteristic of modern times; for in the ancient and mediæval periods the highest art is to be found in alliance with the meanest materials of manufacture. The Etruscans painted on vases of clay subjects which still charm us by their beauty of composition and skilful drawing; and the finest works of Raffaele were designed as decorations for hangings to be made of wool. It was intended that these exhibitions should furnish the opportunity of stimulating the revival of the application of the artist's talents to give beauty and refinement to every description of objects of utility, whether domestic or monumental. In these annual Exhibitions it was contended that every work in which Fine Art is a dominant feature would find proper provision made for its display. Painting, on whatever surface, or in any method; sculpture in every description of material, engravings of all kinds, architectural design as a Fine Art, every description of textile fabric of which Fine Art is a characteristic feature—in short, every work, whether of utility or pleasure, which is entitled to be considered a work of excellence from the artistic point of view, might be displayed in the exhibitions under the division of Fine Art. The industrial portion of these exhibitions was to be confined to educational works and appliances, and new inventions and scientific discoveries. Every artist-workman, moreover, it was stated, would be able to exhibit a work of merit as his own production, and every manufacturer might distinguish himself as a patron of art by his alliance with the artistic talent of the country. In the Fine Art section the artist might exhibit a vase for its beauty of painting, or form, or artistic invention; whilst a similar vase might appear in its appropriate place among manufactures on account of its cheapness, or the novelty of its material.

It was arranged that these annual Exhibitions should take place in permanent buildings erected on either side of the Horticultural Gardens, connecting that part of the building of 1862 which remained standing with a new and lofty structure, on the north side of the gardens, called the Royal Albert Hall, of which we shall have more to say presently. On the south side of the Albert Hall, and facing the gardens, is the splendid conservatory of the Royal Horticultural Society, and at each end are long curved arcades, named respectively the East and West Quadrants. Flanking these, and enclosing the gardens, are the buildings in which the principal part of the Exhibition was held. They consist of lower and upper galleries, about 550 feet long and twenty feet wide, with corridors open to the gardens. The lower storeys have side lights; the upper are lighted from the roof. The whole of the Exhibition buildings are in the Decorated Italian style, and harmonise well with the adjacent South Kensington Museum. The mouldings, cornices, and courses are in light-coloured terra-cotta, and red brick is the material used in the construction.

The first of these annual Exhibitions was held in 1871, and, in addition to the two permanent features mentioned above, included woollen and worsted manufactures, pottery, and educational apparatus. These were replaced in 1872 by cotton and cotton fabrics; jewellery, including articles worn as personal ornaments, made of precious metals, precious stones, or their imitations; musical instruments of all kinds; acoustic apparatus and experiments; paper, stationery, and printing. These various classes comprised also the raw materials, machinery, and processes used in their production.

The third Exhibition of the series, held in 1873, comprehended several classes of subjects not included in the displays of the two previous years. The fine arts, scientific inventions and discoveries, and galleries of painting and sculpture by British and foreign artists, continued as special features of the Exhibition, as before; but this year visitors were enabled to add to the knowledge they had gained of the processes employed in one great department of the textile manufactures which forms so important a part of our national industry, an acquaintance with the mode of producing the beautiful fabrics silk and velvet. Cutlery and edged tools, for which this country has been famous for centuries, were exhibited. Fine-art furniture and decorative work, and stained glass—not entirely absent from the previous Exhibitions, but appearing there in a subordinate position—had now more justice afforded to their claims on our attention; and one most important class—substances used for food, including the science of economical and thoroughly good cookery—was elaborately and scientifically, yet familiarly and intelligibly, illustrated. In connection with this valuable department of this year's Exhibition was a collection of drinking cups and glasses; and—certainly a perfectly novel feature, though to many persons one of the most attractive in the Exhibition—a collection of pipes, from the lordly and highly ornamented hookah, to the humbler but favourite articles made of meerschaum, briar-wood, and primitive clay.

The manufactures selected for the fourth Exhibition, which was opened in the year 1874, were lace, the show of which was magnificent; civil engineering, architecture, and building, including sanitary apparatus and constructions on the one hand, and decorative work on the other; heating by all methods and every kind of fuel, selected in consequence of the high price of coal and the necessity for teaching economy in the combustion of fuel; leather and saddlery, harness, and other articles made of leather; bookbinding; and foreign wines.

One novel feature in the Exhibition of 1873 was a school of cookery, where lectures were delivered and admirably illustrated by the practical experiments of neat-handed cooks. Ladies, naturally, formed a large portion of the audience, and Her Majesty and other members of the Royal Family did not fail to give the sanction of their presence to these novel lectures. The building used for these lectures was, in 1874, placed at the service of the new Training School Committee, by whom the work was carried on.

Whether these Annual International Exhibitions were successful or not in imparting that knowledge as to the best means employed in various arts and trades, and the best results achieved, we will not pretend to say. They were not, however, sufficiently attractive to the masses of the people to warrant their continuance year after year, and with the Exhibition of 1874 the series terminated, and the various buildings were set apart for other purposes. In one series of rooms are now (1876) exhibited models of school-buildings and examples of school-fittings, and of books and apparatus used in elementary instruction. There are also scientific apparatus, models of machinery, and other appliances adapted for technical education. Then, again, there are rooms in which are displayed an interesting collection of models of modern guns and small arms, lent by the War Department, &c. Passing up stairs, the visitor enters a long gallery, lighted on the north side by windows overlooking the Horticultural Gardens. This is the National Portrait Gallery, which was originally established in Great George Street, Westminster, in 1859. It is a most interesting collection, from an artistic as well as an historic point of view, and embraces the "counterfeit presentment" of many of England's greatest worthies, whether as sovereigns, statesmen, warriors, poets, authors, &c. Here are the famous Chandos portrait of Shakespeare, several of Queen Elizabeth, and between three and four hundred likenesses of some of the most remarkable men and women in English history, many of them executed by the first painters of the periods. Besides the portraits, there are a few highly interesting casts of effigies from monuments in Westminster Abbey, Canterbury Cathedral, and other places; and also an interesting collection of autographs.


In 1868 was deposited in the building the Meyrick collection of arms and armour, from Goodrich Court, Herefordshire, formed by the late Sir Samuel Meyrick, the author of "A Critical Inquiry into Ancient Armour," and lent to the Museum by its then owner, Colonel Meyrick. It was arranged for exhibition here by Mr. J. R. Planché. The collection of naval models, and of the munitions of war, lent by the War Department, and on view here, contains examples of British ship-building, from the earliest period down to the construction of the turret-ship of the ill-fated Captain Coles.

That portion of the Exhibition galleries overlooking the gardens on the eastern side was made, in 1875, the receptacle of the Indian Museum. This collection of objects was originally formed by the East India Company, and after its removal from Leadenhall Street, was for a time stowed away in Whitehall Yard, and in various cellars and warerooms, and in the topmost storey of the new India Office. In the lower gallery are arranged the vegetable products, agricultural implements, models, and domestic appliances, illustrative of native life and habits, together with some interesting specimens of the zoology of India. The upper gallery contains the art manufactures and ornithological collections. In these rooms were deposited for exhibition the numerous costly presents brought from India by the Prince of Wales after his tour in that country in 1875–6.

On the opposite side of the Exhibition Road, and with its principal entrance in Cromwell Road, is the South Kensington Museum, together with the various Science and Art Schools which have been established, under Government, in connection therewith.

This Museum, which now contains upwards of 20,000 rare and choice examples of Mediæval and Modern Art workmanship, originated in the year 1852 with a small collection, exhibited in Marlborough House in connection with the Schools of Art. In 1857 the collection was transferred hither to some temporary iron buildings which had been erected for its reception, which, from their material, and from some peculiarities of construction, became popularly known as the "Brompton Boilers." These temporary buildings have been gradually replaced by a permanent edifice. From the year 1853 the Museum has included objects contributed on loan by private owners. In 1862—the year of the second International Exhibition—a special "loan exhibition" of works, chiefly of Mediæval and Renaissance Art, was held here; and since that time the number of objects on loan has always been considerable. By this means very many of the rarest and most precious examples of art workmanship in this country have been generously permitted by their owners to be seen and leisurely studied by the public. In addition to the "loans," many objects have been acquired by purchase, gift, and bequest; besides which are reproductions, by the electrotype process and in plaster, of objects in other collections which have been judged to be of special interest and value to the art student.


The plan of the Museum is somewhat irregular, and covers a large space of ground—about twelve acres in extent—acquired by the Government, at a cost of £60,000, being a portion of the estate purchased by Her Majesty's Commissioners for the Exhibition of 1851, out of the surplus proceeds of that undertaking. The buildings, with their courts and galleries, are constructed chiefly of brick, somewhat profusely ornamented with terra-cotta, and were built from the designs of Captain Fowke, R.E. The art collections are chiefly contained in three large courts and a long range of cloisters on the ground floor; but many rare and valuable objects are shown in the picture-galleries, and also in what is called the Prince Consort Gallery. The visitor, on entering the Museum from the Cromwell Road, passes through a long corridor to the South Court, a lofty and spacious building, surrounded with galleries, and rich in ornamentation. The upper portion of the walls is divided into thirtysix alcoves (eighteen on either side), containing portraits, in mosaic, of eminent men of all ages connected with the arts, especially those who have been distinguished as ornamentalists, or as workers in bronze, marble, or pottery. These portraits, which include such men as Phidias, the sculptor of the Elgin marbles, William of Wykeham, Donatello, Torrigiano, Albert Dürer, Michael Angelo, Titian, Hogarth, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Mulready, are from designs by some of the first artists of the day. This court is divided into two parts by a broad passage which crosses it, above which is the Prince Consort Gallery above mentioned. It would be impossible to give, within the limits at our disposal, a list of the various objects here exhibited, and indeed such a task would be needless, as they are all detailed in the various catalogues sold at the Museum; suffice it to say that here are deposited the numerous and costly objects comprising the "Loan Collections," together with a miscellaneous assortment of art manufactures. The valuable collection of books, engravings, &c., bequeathed to the Museum by the Rev. Alexander Dyce, is deposited in two rooms adjoining this court. The "Oriental Courts," appropriately decorated by Mr. Owen Jones, contain some examples of the art workmanship of the East Indies, China, Japan, Persia, &c. On the south side of the South Court is the entrance to the New Court. This is the largest of the three courts, and is divided by a central passage and gallery. The majority of the objects it contains are full-size reproductions (in plaster) of architectural works of large dimensions, designed for erection in the open air, or in large halls or churches, including the famous Trajan Column at Rome, and the "'Prentice Pillar" in Roslin Chapel, Scotland; there is also a full-size copy (by photography) of the Bayeux Tapestry, coloured in imitation of the original needlework.

The North Court is specially appropriated to the exhibition of Italian sculpture, and architectural models and casts. Many of the most beautiful of these objects are, so to speak, incorporated into the building, the decoration of which is much simpler than that of the South Court. In the east arcade of this court are some textile or woven fabrics, of European origin, including several ecclesiastical vestments and rare fragments of mediæval embroidery. Through the windows of the north arcade is seen the "fernery," which was designed to enable the students in training as art-teachers to draw from plants at all seasons. A considerable portion of the west arcade forms the reading-room of the Art Library. The staircase leading to the galleries is lighted by a large stained-glass window, the subject of which was suggested by a passage in Ecclesiasticus, chapter xxxviii., descriptive of trades. The keramic, or pottery gallery, contains a large collection of Wedgwood's jasper and other wares, and also examples of the porcelain of Bow, Chelsea, Bristol, Plymouth, Worcester, and Derby. Here, too, are represented the great manufacturers of pottery of the present day in Italy, France, and England. The next gallery into which the visitor passes contains a collection of Venetian, German, and other ancient glass vessels. In the Prince Consort Gallery are placed many of the most interesting and costly possessions of the Museum, in enamel, gold, and silversmith's work, jewellery, watches, clocks, &c.

Three staircases in different parts of the building lead to the Picture Galleries, which are above the cloisters of the North and South Courts. Several rooms or galleries are devoted to the National Collection of Pictures by British artists. Critical notices of many of the paintings here exhibited will be found in Redgrave's "Century of British Art." In the north gallery are hung the Raphael cartoons. From the authorised "Guide to the Museum" we glean the following particulars concerning these celebrated productions. They are drawn with chalk upon strong paper, and coloured in distemper, and are the original designs, executed by Raphael and his scholars for Pope Leo X., in the year 1513, as copies for tapestry work. Each cartoon is about twelve feet high. They were originally ten, but three are lost——viz., "The Stoning of St. Stephen," the "Conversion of St. Paul," and "St. Paul in his Dungeon at Philippi." A copy in tapestry of Christ's "Charge to Peter" is hung opposite the original cartoon; and also a tapestry from the Imperial manufactory, the Gobelins, at Paris, a copy of the "Holy Family" by Raphael in the Louvre.

The tapestries, worked in wool, silk, and gold, were hung in the Sistine Chapel at Rome in the year 1519, the year before Raphael died. These are now in the Vatican.

The cartoons remained neglected in the warehouse of the manufacturer at Arras, and were seen there by Rubens, who advised Charles I. to purchase them for the use of a tapestry manufactory which was then established at Mortlake. On the death of Charles I., Cromwell bought them for £300 for the nation. They remained for a long time in a lumber-room at Whitehall, till, by command of William III., Sir Christopher Wren erected a room for them at Hampton Court, in which they hung till Her Majesty permitted them to be removed hither.

Passing through the door at the east end of the gallery, we enter the rooms containing the Sheepshanks' Collection of Paintings. A bust, by Foley, of the late John Sheepshanks, the donor of the pictures, has been placed in this gallery by Miss Sheepshanks. The Ellison Gallery of Watercolour Drawings is next entered, after which we pass into another gallery, in which is displayed the Museum and Loan Collections of Ancient and Modern Jewellery. This exhibition of jewellery and personal ornaments, which was opened here in 1872, is of very great interest. Her Majesty has contributed two objects, one of which is perhaps more valuable for its historical authenticity than for its beauty of design: it was the celebrated Darnley jewel, made for Lady Margaret Douglas, mother of Darnley, about 1576. The sapphire, which occupies the centre of a star belonging to Lady Cork, is said to be the identical one originally belonging to Queen Elizabeth, which was conveyed by Robert Cary, who rode with it to Scotland, presenting it to James VI. as a token of her death. Lady Fitzhardinge lent the enamelled gold-bound prayer-book which Elizabeth wore at her girdle, and which contains the young King Edward's last prayer, written, it is believed, in Elizabeth's own hand. In 1865, the Department of Science and Art, with the aid of a committee of noblemen and gentlemen, known as the hereditary possessors of works in miniature, or as connoisseurs and collectors, organised here a Collection of Miniatures, including more than 3,000 examples of the highest interest in enamel, oil, and water-colour, chalk and pencil, by the leading miniaturists from the sixteenth century down to the present time, embracing almost every notable figure in the social, political, and literary life of England from the reign of Elizabeth, and throwing light, in a variety of ways, upon the manners, family history, the relations of parties and persons, the scandals, friendships, and fashions, which make up the raw material of the canvas on which the historian works his larger pictures. We cannot do more than mention two or three of the most interesting miniatures here brought together, such, for instance, as the portrait of Charles I., set in the King's hair, dipped in blood on the scaffold, an heirloom in the Shelley family, and which belonged to John Winckley, executed at Lancaster Castle with the Earl of Derwentwater, after the rising of 1715. On the back of this relic are engraved the names of the family who rose again for the Stuarts in 1745. Against this we may set the miniature, after Cooper, in enamel, of Cromwell, presented by him to his daughter, Bridget Cromwell, on her marriage with General Ireton, and a number of other authentic portraits of the Protector, including the Crewe one, left by Sir Joshua Reynolds to Burke. Here, lent by Miss Ouvry, was the miniature of Emma, Lady Hamilton, taken from the neck of Nelson after his death. Again, side by side, from the hand of the same painter, Isabey, hung Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington, contributed by Lord Cowley; while a little further on are the portraits of Louis Napoleon and the Empress Eugénie, presented to Lord Cowley by the Emperor, in commemoration of the Congress of Paris in 1856. Captain Dawson Damer lent a curious series of records, from the hand of Cosway, of an ill-fated and ill-requited attachment—portraits of Mrs. Fitzherbert and the Prince Regent, and the wedding ring of the former, with the name "George Augustus Frederick" engraved within the hoop.

The Museum of Patents, adjoining the South Court, is a collection illustrative of the progress of national invention, and contains not only models, but several original machines which have been the means of developing our prosperity, and have given new life to the world. As examples may be mentioned the first steam-engine to which James Watt applied his condenser; the first locomotive, "Puffing Billy," and its successor, George Stephenson's "Rocket;" the first engine ever used in steam navigation, the first Bramah's press, and many other pieces of mechanism of not less historical value.

On the west side of the main buildings of the Museum, facing the Exhibition Road, is a large edifice, containing class-rooms for instruction in various branches of science. This structure was built on the site of the "International Bazaar," a building which was constructed in 1862, and filled with a choice selection of works by persons whose application for space in the Exhibition could not be complied with. The Art Schools extend along the north side of the Museum, and have separate apartments for male and female students.

The Science and Art Department is a division of the Education Department, under the direction of the Lord President of the Council and the Vice-President of the Committee of Council on Education. It was established in 1852. A sum of money is voted annually by Parliament, in aid of local efforts to promote science and art applied to productive industry, such efforts originating with the localities. Payments are made upon results of instruction in science and art, as tested by examination by properly-appointed officials. The National Art Training School was established for the purpose of training art-masters and mistresses for the United Kingdom, and for the instruction of students in designing, &c., to which male and female students are admitted when properly qualified, receiving an allowance in aid of their maintenance, which is proportioned to their attainments, and to their qualification for the duties of teaching required from them. When such students have obtained certificates of qualification, they may be appointed teachers to the local Schools of Art throughout the United Kingdom. The object of the Science Schools and Classes is to promote instruction in science, especially among the industrial classes, in such subjects as Mathematics, Geometry, Naval Architecture, Mechanics, Chemistry, Botany, and the like. The assistance granted by the Science and Art Department to that end is in the form of public examinations, in which Queen's medals and Queen's prizes are awarded; payments on the results of examination and on attendance; scholarships and exhibitions; building grants; grants towards the purchase of apparatus, &c., and supplementary grants in certain subjects; and special aid to teachers and students. The sum voted by Parliament, for the year 1876–7, for the Science and Art Department, amounted to nearly £300,000. The department, it may be added, has the advantage of the services of gentlemen of the highest standing in their several professions, as examiners both for Science and Art Schools, and as official referees for the purchases made for the collections.

The Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences, to which we now pass, owes its origin to the fund, which was raised in 1862, for the purpose of erecting in Hyde Park the national memorial to the late Prince Consort, which we have already described. With every desire that this recognition of the debt which English art, science, and industry owed to the Prince should be, in every sense of the word, such a memorial as the country itself preferred, the Queen requested a committee of gentlemen to suggest the form which the testimonial should assume. After deliberating upon the matter, the committee recommended the erection of a personal memorial to the Prince Consort in Hyde Park, opposite to what was best known as the Central Hall of Arts and Sciences. Naturally enough, it was expected that large subscriptions would flow in towards the object in view. These expectations were not fully realised, the amount subscribed at that period being less than £70,000. To this sum Parliament added £50,000; and with the £120,000 thus obtained it was resolved to place in Hyde Park the monument of which we have spoken. Further efforts were yet to be made, and in these the Prince of Wales took the initiative. In the year 1865 the Prince of Wales called together a number of gentlemen, who were asked and consented to become vice-patrons of the proposed memorial building. A statement of the intentions of the promoters of the undertaking was issued; the Royal Commissioners of the Exhibition of 1851 gave three acres of land as a site for the building, at the nominal rent of 1s. a year, on a long lease, and subscriptions came in towards the much-cherished object. A provisional committee, consisting of twelve members, was formed, of which the Prince of Wales was president. They held several meetings at Marlborough House; £110,000 were soon subscribed; and there was every prospect of the intentions of the committee being quickly realised, when a sudden stop was put to the efforts of the promoters by the memorable panic of 1866. For a while all further proceedings ceased. In the plans of the proposed hall provision was made for a certain number of sittings; and at the beginning of the year 1867 Messrs. Lucas, the great contractors, came forward, and consented to purchase sittings valued at £38,000, on the understanding that they should receive the contract for the building, the total cost of which was not to exceed £200,000. These terms were agreed to by the provisional committee; the public nobly came forward and subscribed £112,000, the Royal Commissioners of the 1851 Exhibition gave £50,000, Messrs. Lucas' proposition was worth £38,000; and on the 20th of May, 1867, the Queen laid the foundation-stone of the building, the original plans for which came from the late Captain Fowke, R.E.; Colonel Scott, R.E., being the architect. From that time the scheme was successful. A pardonable degree of curiosity was aroused respecting the ultimate destiny of the hall; but this was set aside when it was announced that the new building was intended, amongst other things, to accommodate science congresses, to provide a suitable arena for musical performances, and to serve other equally useful artistic and scientific purposes. For this the building is admirably adapted, from the immense disposable space it offers. Between 6,000 and 7,000 persons can be seated in the hall, and besides this, when the necessity arises, it is possible to place as many as 2,000 spectators in comfortable positions on an inclined staging in the picture-gallery, which runs nearly round the hall.

Guided by the principles upon which the Romans constructed those amphitheatric buildings, the remains of which strike modern spectators with awe and admiration, the designers of the Albert Hall have succeeded in raising a structure of eminently beautiful and attractive proportions. Seen from the Park or the Kensington Road, the hall stands boldly out in all the magnificence which invests a building in the style of Italian Renaissance. The base is of plain red brick, with single-headed windows, the keystone of which is formed of the crown and cushion and the letter "V.," above which the principal floor is divided by terra-cotta pilasters, between which are semicircular-headed windows. An idea of the vast character of the building may be obtained from the knowledge that 70,000 blocks of terra-cotta were used in its construction. The frieze, which is about 800 feet long and about 6 feet wide, was made in sections of 50 feet, of encaustic tesseræ, by Messrs. Minton and Co., who employed in its working the female students of the School of Art at Kensington. Above these is the entablature, having a widely-projecting balcony four feet across. Surrounding the building, and high above the balcony, is mosaic work, representing various allegories descriptive of the arts, commerce, and manufactures. These mosaics are from the designs of Messrs. Horsley, Armitage, Yeames, Marks, Poynter, Pickersgill, and Armstead. Round the frieze of the building runs the following inscription in large letters:—" This hall was erected for the advancement of the arts and sciences, and for the works of industry of all nations, in fulfilment of the intentions of Albert, Prince Consort. The site was purchased by the proceeds of the Great Exhibition of the year 1851. The first stone of the hall was laid by Her Majesty Queen Victoria, on the 20th day of May, 1867, and it was opened by Her Majesty the Queen, on the 29th day of March, in the year 1871."

Above the frieze, in terra-cotta, in letters a foot high, is the sacred text: "Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine. The wise and their works are in the hand of God. Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace."

In the plan of the interior, it can be seen at once that the architect has taken for his model the old Roman amphitheatre, though with such important modifications as, happily, quite another kind of entertainment, and, unhappily, less genial skies, required. Roman plebeians and aristocrats were mere spectators, looking down on the fierce and bloody spectacles provided for their amusement in the arena. Here it was necessary so to provide that people might both hear and see, but above all things hear. Such a condition gives the key to the arrangement of the interior. Imagine, then, within an outer shell of staircases, corridors, refreshment and retiring rooms, a vast hall, in shape of a graceful oval, of which the southern end is all but filled by the organ and an orchestra rising upwards in tiers of seats. Fronting this orchestra is the auditorium, of horse-shoe form, composed of arena a level space; the amphitheatre, or, as it might be better termed, the stalls, sloping upwards towards the boxes; three tiers of boxes; above them the balcony; and lastly, above it, what is called the picture-gallery. This gallery is not within the proper limits of the ellipse forming the interior, but is built over the staircases and corridors which form an outer zone to the portions of the auditorium below. It runs, therefore, round the whole of the interior; and the thirty Italian arches, with their scagliola pillars, through which the body of the hall is seen, are really its great ornament.


The boxes and balcony project from the wall into the ellipse, each tier extending three feet beyond that above it. Such an arrangement enables the occupants of each tier to see without much difficulty, and be seen by those above them. One of the most remarkable features of the hall, in fact, is the perfect view of the interior, and of all within it, which can be had from any point. The boxes and stalls were taken by subscription. One of the latter, comprising the right to a revolving chair, like a music stool with arms, in the amphitheatre, cost £100; a loggia box, holding eight persons, £800; a box on the grand tier, with ten places, £1,000; and one with five places on the second tier, £500. Thus the unit of £100 is taken as the cost per seat in each case. The subscription season is rather a long one—999 years.

One of the most striking features in the interior is the organ, which stands in the centre of the orchestra, supported by a framework of the lightest and simplest kind, itself its only ornament. It is said to be the largest organ in the world, and was constructed by Mr. Henry Willis, the builder of the organ at St. George's Hall, Liverpool. Some idea of the size of the instrument may be formed when we say that it contains about 120 registers, about 8,000 pipes, distributed over four manuals and a pedal organ. The pipes vary in length from about thirty-four feet to three-quarters of an inch. The only organ in England which approaches it in size is that at the Alexandra Palace, built by the same maker; and it is about double the size of the fine organ of St. Paul's Cathedral. In this organ the builder, for the first time, made use of pneumatic tubes for the connection of the manuals and pedals with pipes at a distance, instead of the old long tracker movement; and it is probable that this invention will, in the course of time, cause important changes in the construction of such gigantic instruments. With its vistas of polished pipes of all sizes, some of them gleaming like silver, the organ arrests the eye at once on entering the building; and when one hears that the motive power is supplied by two steam-engines, one might be led to expect such a volume of sound as would almost blow the roof off.


The lighting of the hall is a novelty in itself. Thirty gold-coloured chandeliers, one in each arch, surround the picture-gallery, each having fifteen lights. There is a third ring of sixty chandeliers, with twenty-one lights each; and altogether there are nearly 7,000 gas jets, which can all be lit by electricity in ten seconds.

The spaces over the porches on the east and west sides of the hall have been in each case arranged as a lecture theatre, having a raised floor, with a platform or stage, and holding about 200 people. At its widest part the hall measures 200 feet, the shorter length is 180 feet, and there is a distance of 140 feet between the floor of the arena and the dome.

Since the day of the opening of the hall by Her Majesty, when the orchestra was occupied by 1,200 instrumentalists and vocalists, concerts on a grand and extensive scale have been the chief use to which the building has been put; and it was also used for part of the display in the annual industrial Exhibitions of 1871–4. The grandest scenes, perhaps, which have taken place within its walls were on the occasions of the state concerts given in honour of the visits to England of the Shah of Persia, the Czar of Russia, &c.; another brilliant ceremony witnessed here was the installation of the Prince of Wales as Grand Master of the Lodge of Freemasons of England.

Close by the Royal Albert Hall, on a plot of ground granted by the Commissioners of the Exhibition of 1851, is the National Training School for Music, of which the Duke of Edinburgh was chosen the first president. The building was constructed in 1875, at the cost of Mr. Charles James Freake. The Council of the Society of Arts undertook the supervision of the foundation of scholarships, and through the strenuous exertions of its officers a very considerable amount of interest has been created throughout the country. In all parts of the United Kingdom local committees have been or are being formed, to promote the establishment of musical scholarships for five years, and the increasing number of such scholarships throughout the country testifies to the public appreciation of the scheme, and affords a guarantee of success. Each scholarship is of the value of £40 per year for five years, and can be held only by persons who shall have been successful in a competitive examination.

The Royal Horticultural Society, whose gardens, as we have already stated, are enclosed by the Exhibition buildings on the south side of the Royal Albert Hall, was established in 1804, and incorporated by royal charter soon afterwards. The society was instituted for the improvement of horticulture in all its branches, and it has an extensive experimental garden at Chiswick, five miles from London, laid out tastefully, and filled with many rare plants. These gardens have acquired great celebrity from their having been established at a period when gardening was in a very low condition in this country, and from having been the means of raising it to its present greatly-improved state. Previously to purchasing the land at Chiswick, the Horticultural Society had temporarily occupied a small piece of ground at Brompton, not far from the gardens which we are about to notice. At the meetings of this society communications on subjects pertaining to horticulture are read; the most remarkable produce of the gardens of the society is exhibited; fruits, flowers, and vegetables sent for exhibition are displayed, and prizes are awarded to the most meritorious cultivators. In 1859 the society obtained (through the late Prince Consort) possession of about twenty acres of land on this site, and new and splendid gardens were laid out. These were opened in the summer of 1862, forming a charming retreat from the bustle of the Exhibition.

Between the Kensington Road and Cromwell Road the ground falls about forty feet, and using this fact in aid of a general effect, the ground has been divided into three principal levels. The entrances to the gardens are on the lower level in Exhibition Road and Queen's Gate, and the central pathway, upwards of seventy-five feet wide, ascending through terraces to the third great level, leads to the winter garden or conservatory. The whole garden is surrounded by Italian arcades, each of the three levels having arcades of a different character. The upper, or north arcade, where the boundary is semi-circular in form, is a modification of the arcades of the Villa Albani at Rome. The central arcade is almost wholly of Milanese brickwork, interspersed with terra-cotta, majolica, &c., while the design for the south arcade has been adapted from the beautiful cloisters of St. John Lateran at Rome. None of these arcades are less than twenty feet wide and twenty-five feet high, and they give a promenade, sheltered from all weathers, more than three-quarters of a mile in length. The arcades and earthworks were executed by the Commissioners for the Exhibition of 1851, at a cost of £50,000, while the laying-out of the gardens and construction of the conservatory were executed by the Horticultural Society, and cost about the same sum. On the upper terrace, in front of the conservatory, and at the head of a lake, stands a memorial of the late Prince Consort, the work of Mr. Joseph Durham, sculptor, originally intended only to commemorate the International Exhibition of 1851. The death of the Prince having occurred before the work was completed, the memorial was made into a lasting tribute for the "great founder of the Exhibition." The idea embodied is Britannia (typified by the Prince) supported by the four quarters of the globe—signifying that the Exhibition originated in England, and was supported by all other nations. The monument stands upwards of forty feet in height, and represents the Prince in his robes as Grand Master of the Order of the Bath. The body of the memorial is of grey granite, with columns and panels of red polished Aberdeen granite; the statue of the Prince, and also those of the figures representing each quarter of the globe, being of bronze.



  • 1. "Environs of London," vol. ii., p. 507.
  • 2. See page 88, ante.