South London’s King Alfred statue has the legs of a Roman goddess

What has long been considered London’s oldest outdoor statue has proven to be even older than expected after restoration work revealed its Roman origins.

The statue, by King Alfred, has stood on the Square of the Trinity Church since around 1826, but has long been considered to be much older than the gardens it stands in. There were theories that it was either a carving from the 18th-19th centuries. . century. a 14th-century style, or possibly one of the long-gone medieval statues, carved for King Richard II and once found in Westminster Hall.

In fact, a theory that it is a carving from the 18th or 19th century is closer to the truth – but only in part.

Heritage of London Trust / Corporation of Trinity House

Following the conservation work on the statue, which was carried out earlier this year, its actual age has finally been revealed, and some of its hidden mysteries have been solved – it is actually two statues that have been put together and King Alfred has lady legs.

The work revealed that the upper part of the sculpture, above and including the belt line, is artificial Coade Stone, and the lower part of the body, below the belt consisting of curly clothing and right leg, is of Bath Stone. Panels of Coade Stone surround the lower part of the bathstone.

A study of the statue of Dr. Kevin Hayward of PCA Archeology confirmed that the lower half of the statue is made of a type of bathstone used in about 90% of Roman native stone sculpture in London.

Further discussions with Professor Martin Henig, a leading Roman art specialist, concluded that the Bath Stone half was from a statue of the goddess Minerva, which was probably carved by a continental craftsman accustomed to working with British stone. Carvings of this quality are typical of the middle of the 2nd century AD, dating around Hadrian’s reign.

Measurements on the leg indicate that the original statue was about three meters high, which also makes it the most significant native stone sculpture yet found from Roman Britain.

So the origin of the statue of King Alfred has been revealed and revealed his lady legs in the process.

The conservation was carried out by the London Stone Conservation at a cost of £ 16,500, which was jointly funded by the Heritage of London Trust and the Corporation of Trinity House, which owns much of Trinity Village.

The statue is located on Trinity Church Square in SE1’s Trinity Village, a private courtyard that is usually only accessible to local residents, but you can easily see the statue from the road.

Heritage of London Trust / Corporation of Trinity House

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