Day 12 – Rochester to Central London

To WESTMINSTER

GREEN PARK

The weather was back to the sun I had enjoyed (sometimes too much) over the preceeding 10 days. I travelled from Rochester the land of Charles Dickens via the National Cycle Network Routes 1 and 4 right into the city of London. Congratulations to Sustrans for an excellently signed route – I lost my way just briefly once and on one section across the Dartford Marshes it was a little rough.

The route took me past numerous landmarks, which I enjoyed and finally I made my way to my three main objectives:

Sir Winston Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square.

General de Gaulle’s statue in Carlton Gardens

The Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park.

 

Today's Route

Statue of Winston Churchill, Parliament Square

In the 1950s, Churchill was shown plans for the redevelopment of Parliament Square, he drew a circle in the north-east corner and declared: “That is where my statue will go.”

The statue itself cost £30,000 and was unveiled on 1 November 1973 by Clementine, Baroness Spencer-Churchill, Winston Churchill’s widow.

The Queen did attend the ceremony and gave a speech in which she mentioned that Churchill had turned down a dukedom because he wanted to spend his remaining years in the House of Commons

Statue of Charles de Gaulle, Cromwell Gardens

In 1920, the London school for French students settled at Cromwell Gardens, in front of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The building became the headquarter of the Free French Air Forces during the Second World War, and the pupils of the school were evacuated in Lake District. The Nazi bombardments on London destroyed a wing of the school, but it was rebuilt later.

In 1980, it took the name of « lycée français Charles de Gaulle » to pay tribute to the General who lived in London during the Second World War.

This statue was built in 1993, near the headquarters of Free French Forces. It’s a work of Angela Conner. The statue was erected by a public subscription headed by Winston Churchill’s daughter, Lady Soames.

The inscription, carved into the plinth and picked out in gold reads:

« Charles / De Gaulle / 1890 – 1970 ».

At the base of the plinth is a bronze plaque that reads:

« This statue was unveiled by / Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth / The Queen Mother / on 23 June 1993 / Sculptor Angela Connor / Architect Bernard Wiehahn ».

RAF Bomber Command Memorial

The Royal Air Force Bomber Command Memorial is a memorial in Green Park, London, commemorating the crews of RAF Bomber Command who embarked on missions during the Second World War.[1] The memorial, located on Piccadilly near Hyde Park Corner, was built to mark the sacrifice of 55,573 aircrew from Britain, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Poland and other countries of the Commonwealth,[2] as well as civilians of all nations killed during raids.[3]

Queen Elizabeth II unveiled the memorial on 28 June 2012, the year of her Diamond Jubilee.[4]

The controversy over the tactics employed by RAF Bomber Command during the Second World War meant that an official memorial to the aircrews had been delayed for many years. Despite describing bombers as “the means of victory” in 1940, British prime minister Winston Churchill did not mention Bomber Command in his speech at the end of the war.

An appeal was made for £5.6 million to build the memorial, and funding came from donations made by the public, as well as substantial amounts from Lord Ashcroft and businessmen John Caudwell and Richard Desmond.Robin Gibb, the singer, became a key figure behind the appeal, working alongside Jim Dooley to raise funds and have the memorial built.

Liam O’Connor designed the memorial, built of Portland stone, which features a bronze 9-foot (2.7 m) sculpture of seven aircrew, designed by the sculptor Philip Jackson to look as though they have just returned from a bombing mission and left their aircraft.

The plinth of the memorial is inscribed with the following text by Pericles: “Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.”

View from the Handlebars

Statistics and Route

Progress

Distance -1353km
Climbing 10405 metres
83 hours in the Saddle
  • Completed
  • To do

Where to Tomorrow?

Ampthill

Heading North – leaving the big city behind and also dropping in at the De Haviland Museum in London Colney to visit the Vice Chairman, Ralph STEINER

Hey - What about you?

Join the conversation.

I could never do justice to London during the war and so for that reason, I just concentrated on three memorials.

Please feel free to make any observations you wish.

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SOURCES:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Bomber_Command_Memorial

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statue_of_Winston_Churchill,_Parliament_Square

https://degaulleinlondon.wordpress.com/category/the-places/

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Thank you to Tom LEWIS, Doug CONSIDINE and Philippe COLLIN all of whom have given generously in the last couple of days.

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1 comment

  1. Loving the bronze statues……awesome sight I’m sure!
    Better weather today hope tomorrow goes well!
    Onwards and forwards ?‍♀️?