At popular holidays, such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the square becomes rife with people despite no formal arrangements being made. The square has gained universal popularity; from Lego making a Trafalgar Square set to being a Monopoly location, and even the world premiere of the final Harry Potter film being shown here. Trafalgar Square is certainly London at its finest.
Trafalgar Square London Private Guided Tours
Named after the Battle of Trafalgar, where Nelson gave his life to stop the French fleet, Trafalgar Square is a public square in Central London. Interestingly, the square was significant long before Nelson’s sacrifice, dating back to the 13th century when it served as a stable for the King’s horses. Often a hotspot for political demonstrations, from protests against the Iraq war to recent climate change activists, the square is most known for Nelson’s column – a 44-metre-tall (144 foot) tribute to the Admiral. Originally, the column was designed to be 66 metres tall (216 foot), however public outcry resulted in it being reduced during construction.
But Trafalgar Square’s history is far more expansive than just the Napoleonic Wars. Every year, since 1947, a Christmas tree is donated to the square by Norway for Britain’s help in World War Two liberating their country from Nazi occupation.
Owned by the Queen, Trafalgar Square was once infamous for feral pigeons littering the area. In Victorian times, pigeons were so widespread, it became a common practice for people to set up stalls, selling bird food, in the square. So many birds flocked to the square, it was even declared a health hazard due to bird droppings! Let’s hope they brought a coat. In 2001, the sale of bird food was stopped, and feeding of the birds was outright banned in 2003. As ridiculous at it might sound, it was probably for the best; it cost £140000 to clean Nelson’s column.
Trafalgar Square was established in the early 19th century. To the north side of the Square The National Gallery was built between 1832 and 1838 to a Neoclassical design by William Wilkins, an English architect who also designed University College London. Only the façade of the original building remains as the gallery has undergone many expansions over the years. After the death of Wilkins, his plans for the layout of the Square were dropped in favour of a design by Charles Barry. Terraces and steps were used to facilitate the levelling of the development and plinths provided for sculptures. The inclusion of two fountains was approved in 1841.
The planning of Nelson's Column wasn't part of Barry's commission but the design chosen by a competition, which was won by architect William Railton. The statue of Nelson was raised in 1843 atop a Corinthian column guarded by four sculpted lions.
Architects W.S. Atkins in association with Foster and Partners redeveloped the Square in 2003. Work involved closing the eastbound road and installing steps to the pedestrianised terrace in front of the National Gallery.
Black History and Heritage is represented in a carved relief on Nelson's Column by John Edward Carew. The sculpture, which faces Whitehall, depicts the deth of Nelson and on the left is the image of an African born man called George Ryan. He is shown with rifle in hand looking towards the rigging from where a French sniper shot originated. It is documented that 18 African born sailors fought bravely at The Battle of Trafalgar and it is important to celebrate the effort of these souls fighting for England.
Trafalgar Square's South Africa House is another important Black Heritage site with its historical anti-apartheid vigils of the 1980s. Also in the square is the National Portrait Gallery which profiles Johnson Beharry, Grenada born soldier and British national hero who received the Victoria Cross for valour.
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Visit London's popular attractions in a one day chauffeur-driven drive round tour with an experienced tour guide.
Visit London's popular attractions in a one day private chauffeur-driven tour with an experienced tour guide.