The Duke of York Column


Built between 1830 and 1833, this column is a monument to Prince Frederick, Duke of York, the second eldest son of King George III. The Duke of York was the commander-in-chief of the British Army during the French Revolutionary Wars and is remembered in the children’s nursery rhyme, “The Grand Old Duke of York”.

The £25,000 to build the statue was raised by subscription – each individual in the army was required to contribute a day’s pay. Inside the hollow column a spiral staircase leads to the viewing platform around the base of the statue. Originally open to the public, this means of ascent was closed following a spate of suicides in the 17th Century.

“This is Waterloo-place, surrounded by columned mansions… In front of the stairs is the Duke of York’s column, of which very little can be said, except that it is ninety-four feet high, and some years ago the jumping down from the top and being smashed on the broad stones at its base, was a fashionable mode of committing suicide. It’s a pity that none of the poor wretches ever thought of over throwing and jumping down with the statue of the Duke of York, for it stands ridiculously high, and the impression it makes on that bad eminence is by no means agreeable.”
Max Schlesinger, Saunterings in and about London, 1853 (from victorianlondon.org)

Photograph by Kristian Buus.

Column height: 37.64m
Designer: Benjamin D Wyatt (statue by Sir Richard Westmacott)
Transport: Charing Cross / Green Park / Piccadilly Circus


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