Queen's Statue, Friar Street

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Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby saa4694 » 02 Dec 2010 20:03

I was told once that the reason the statue faces away from the town is that something happened to offend the queen, but I have no details. Does someone know the story?

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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby windrush » 02 Dec 2010 21:01

I would think that, with all the going's on in the Town Hall over the years, the good lady has spun herself around a time or two! :whistle1:

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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby Les » 02 Dec 2010 21:29

Well, the apocrifal tale is that once, when she was driving in her carraige along the London/Bath Road, the lovelt residents of Silver Street threw mud and stones at it, but I understand that has now been debunked. It is also said that on another occasion when she was passing through the town the entrance to Silver Street was blocked off with hoardings so that she couldn't see the squalor and the residents couldn't see her carraige, but I doubt if that is true as well.
Certainly the old biddy didn't like Reading.
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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby cribsie » 02 Dec 2010 21:46

Did a quick search and came up with this, which was a reply to an article from Get Reading a couple of years ago;

Queen Victoria did not visit town

July 10, 2008


REFERENCE Pick of the Past, Tuesday, February 19 - you repeated (yet again) the old urban myth about Queen Victoria's statue facing away from the town.
Her life is well documented and she never visited Reading; furthermore, the orientation of the statue was decided by the borough council.

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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby saa4694 » 02 Dec 2010 22:53

Thanks. The link mentions an urban myth that is described in an earlier article, but that article is not on the list of hits. DAK what the myth was? It might job a few memories as to the reason that I was given.

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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby Brendan Carr » 03 Dec 2010 00:05

The statue of her son, Edward, outside the station faces the same way so Reading must have done something terribly wrong! I know that when the Town Hall, beside the main shopping precint in Reading was bombed during World War II, one of Victoria's fingers was broken off, you can still see the damage. The royal digit was recovered and is in Reading Museum's collection. The Sculptor George Blackall Simonds was also responsible for the Maiwand Lion in the Forbury Gardens and 'The Falconer' in New York's Central Park.

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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby Les » 03 Dec 2010 08:16

Thanks Brendan, I didn't know about the missing finger, I shall have to have a look for that when I am in town next. (Its got to get a bit warmer before that happens though.)
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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby Riverside » 03 Dec 2010 08:58

I'm only throwing something into a mix of possibility, but rather than having her back to the town, it couldn't be that they are actually facing Brunel's railway?
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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby johnH » 03 Dec 2010 10:22

She could be having a good look at Caversham :whistle1:
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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby Les » 03 Dec 2010 10:43

Riverside wrote:I'm only throwing something into a mix of possibility, but rather than having her back to the town, it couldn't be that they are actually facing Brunel's railway?


So that they are presenting a welcoming face to those coming into the town instead of turning their backs on them! A good though Riverside
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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby OLDMAN » 03 Dec 2010 11:03

Well I do know that the statue was to commemorate her Golden Jubilee and was put there in 1887

Its also known that she is actually looking directly down Blagrave St as well as toward the station but whether that has any significance

The other odd thing is its an open question as to whether she actually visited the town!
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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby steveowen » 03 Dec 2010 14:57

Brendan Carr wrote:The statue of her son, Edward, outside the station faces the same way so Reading must have done something terribly wrong! I know that when the Town Hall, beside the main shopping precint in Reading was bombed during World War II, one of Victoria's fingers was broken off, you can still see the damage. The royal digit was recovered and is in Reading Museum's collection. The Sculptor George Blackall Simonds was also responsible for the Maiwand Lion in the Forbury Gardens and 'The Falconer' in New York's Central Park.


There is a myth that George Blackall Simonds committed suicide after discovering that the lion's stance was wrong, but it is incorrect:

The sculptor was George Blackall Simonds, a member of a Reading brewing family from Simonds' Brewery. At 9½ metres long (31'), and having taken two years to design and complete, the lion is one of the world's largest cast iron statues. Rumours persist that Simonds committed suicide on learning that the lion's gait was incorrectly that of a domestic cat. In fact, he made careful observations on lions and the stance was anatomically correct despite various African ex-pats disagreeing. He also lived for another 43 years, enjoying continuing success as a sculptor going on to create a statue of Queen Victoria (1887) and a statue of George Palmer (1891).

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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby cribsie » 03 Dec 2010 17:09

I read years ago the myth about the Lion having the wrong stance/sculptor committing suicide. It's amazing how such a blatant untruth is repeated over time and people take such nonsense as fact. Anything I put on here has, of course, been carefully researched :whistle1:
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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby steveowen » 03 Dec 2010 21:56

cribsie wrote:I read years ago the myth about the Lion having the wrong stance/sculptor committing suicide. It's amazing how such a blatant untruth is repeated over time and people take such nonsense as fact. Anything I put on here has, of course, been carefully researched :whistle1:

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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby cribsie » 03 Dec 2010 22:20

steveowen wrote:
cribsie wrote:I read years ago the myth about the Lion having the wrong stance/sculptor committing suicide. It's amazing how such a blatant untruth is repeated over time and people take such nonsense as fact. Anything I put on here has, of course, been carefully researched :whistle1:

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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby daisyanne » 04 Dec 2010 16:48

If as stated queen victoria did not visit the town how come there is family history of her visiting the town a giving out medals following one of the wars. There are pictures with the nurses parade and everything to back up stories. Know going off track here but who actually unvieled the maywand lions statue the original before the brass plates were added.

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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby Les » 04 Dec 2010 17:03

Those are intersting comments daisyanne. I personally think that it would be quite remarkable if Good Queen Vic dod not visit the town and just because it is not recorded that she did doesn't mean that she didn't. Do you have access to any pics which show the events you mention? If so, perhaps you could share them with us?

Edited to add:_ Take a look at this http://www.getreading.co.uk/community/s ... visit_town
for two contrasting views, and then take your pick as to which one you go for.
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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby daisyanne » 05 Dec 2010 00:15

Yes les certainly interesting two points of view.Will sit on fence until that picture is found. News papers of the time I presume still exist in the archives in the library so will look. Can remember seeing some photo's when a child. But also there would proberly be records from the old berkshire county council as well would have though plus reading municiple council as was too.So might be worth a look in those too.Mind you even in modern times not all royal visits were recorded as the queen as a young princess along with her sister visited the town for shopping.Though today the papparazi would catch them out.

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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby Les » 05 Dec 2010 07:23

The two young princesses also visited Bertram Mills Circus when it was pitched in Hills Meadow in, I think, in 1946 or 7, the circus's first show after the war, My family and I were in the audience of the the same show.
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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby Jimmy Riddle » 05 Dec 2010 12:15

There was at least one other place that Queen Victoria disliked and refused to visit - Bath

"The area in front of the Royal Crescent is a public park called Royal Victoria Park. It was opened by Princess Victoria when she was 11 years old (she was the British queen between 1837 and 1901). During the park's opening ceremony a gust of wind blew her skirt in the air - someone joked that she had fat legs, and people laughed. Victoria was so upset by this that she never returned to Bath after that day."

Maybe Bath and Reading got mixed up along the way?
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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby Bam » 05 Dec 2010 12:52

There is something in the midst of my fast decaying grey matter that tells me that Queen Vic or some other heirachy was en route to visit Reading and either their car or carriage broke down in London Road before reaching the town and the visit aborted . Someone will probably correct my garbled details.
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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby Brendan Carr » 09 Dec 2010 20:39

daisyanne wrote:If as stated queen victoria did not visit the town how come there is family history of her visiting the town a giving out medals following one of the wars. There are pictures with the nurses parade and everything to back up stories. Know going off track here but who actually unvieled the maywand lions statue the original before the brass plates were added.


Lord Wantage who had been Conservative MP for Berkshire unveiled the Maiwand Lion. Wantage Hall at the University bears his name and Wantage Rd.

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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby saa4694 » 26 Apr 2011 23:57

I am bumping this thread to say that I have at length heard from my brother’s contact. Unfortunately he does not know the answer. So we know that the reason the statue faces away from the town is not because of anything that the Queen said or thought; we do not know what she is supposed to have said to give rise to the story.

Incidentally

Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street
by Brendan Carr » 02 Dec 2010 23:05

The statue of her son, Edward, outside the station faces the same way so Reading must have done something terribly wrong!


the King’s statue does not face in the same direction; it looks towards the town.

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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby daisyanne » 27 Apr 2011 09:17

Mind you all these myths are not as good as the one spread by the council when asked where is the cannon gun which used to be on the mound in the forbury. They said that it went towards the war effort.WRONG. Well knowm fact the gun was there way after the war some people who use to live in newtown in the 40s and 50s got photos.But better still there should be newspaper articles relating to the fact reading lent it seems more like gave it to southsea to go on display at the castle. By the way the gun couldn't be used in the war effort because the metal was so mixed and poor qaulity it was no good for making any thing from. It was said that if it had been fired it would have exploded on use.

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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby Bhanu » 28 Apr 2011 05:38

For a long period of Queen Victoria's reign, she was very unpopular. I think this grew from her reluctance to appear in public following the death of Prince Albert in 1861. Victoria shut herself away on the Isle of Wight at Osborne House or sometimes in Scotland neglected affairs of state for some years. Successive governments tried various 'ruses' to tempt her out, including bestowing the title 'Empress of India' in 1876, but to little avail.

It was not until the run up to her golden jubilee in 1887 that Victoria gradually reintegrated with her role. Much of the pomp and pagentary which will be on display at the Royal wedding was introduced at that time.
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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby twinfair » 28 Apr 2011 08:55

Brendan Carr wrote:The statue of her son, Edward, outside the station faces the same way so Reading must have done something terribly wrong!


Are you sure it was Edward? I could have sworn it was George V (ie Victoria's Grandson).

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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby Les » 28 Apr 2011 10:22

Sorry twinfair, it is Edward the seventh. and if anyone should know it is Brandan!
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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby savagethegoat » 28 Apr 2011 12:47

is there a statue of the present Queen? Surely in Royal Berkshires capital there should be one!
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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby OLDMAN » 28 Apr 2011 13:40

I think it’s a conventional rule that no statues are sculpted of ‘living’ monarchs, although there are some in other countries

Under this rule, the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square is reserved for her Maj’ at present!
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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby savagethegoat » 28 Apr 2011 14:29

In that case, long may it stay vacant.... and that from a Socialist!

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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby twinfair » 28 Apr 2011 17:37

Les wrote:Sorry twinfair, it is Edward the seventh. and if anyone should know it is Brandan!


You do not have to be sorry. I am amazed as I ALWAYS thought it was George V. I have looked it up and you are right - it even looks like him so I guess I have never actually studied it in person. But I disagree with saa4694 as it does face away from the town and towards the station.

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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby john boy » 28 Apr 2011 18:42

Maybe they knew how bad Friar st would become they faced her away from it.

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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby Les » 28 Apr 2011 19:39

For sure Queen Vic would not have been amused by the antics that some people get up to on Friday & Saturday Nights in Friar Street. Randy teddy might have done though!
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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby savagethegoat » 28 Apr 2011 20:49

"we are not a museum" might have been her catchphrase if they'd put here any nearer to it.
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Re: Queen's Statue, Friar Street

Postby Bhanu » 29 Apr 2011 05:53

The antics of GeorgeIV had poisoned the populace against the Royal Family and Victoria's extended vapours did little to help; although her accession was marked with a positive blip in support.

Both Gladstone and Disraeli considered that a strong and respected monarchy could be the glue to hold the nation together. The situation in continental Europe was unstable for much of C19th and there was a real fear that the unease maight spread across the Channel. Hence the campaign to bring Victoria out of seclusion.

By the time Victoria died, what can only be described as a massive PR effort had succeeded in raising the profile and popularity of the Queen, so that statues appeared on town squares everywhere after 1901.
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