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These public sculptures are amongst the oldest recorded in London by Art UK as part of their sculpture digitisation programme.


The sculptures can be found in squares, parks and churches. They tell us about some of the people who lived in the city in the 16th and 17th centuries, at a time when London and its population was growing at a fast rate. These centuries saw the the reign of the Tudors, the English Civil War, plagues and the Great Fire of London.

11 artworks

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The Ancient Melancholy Man
Photo credit: Jennette Russell / Art UK

The Ancient Melancholy Man

This 16th-century statue can be found in a corner of Holland Park, Kensington and Chelsea, and is thought to have stood here since the Formal Garden was created in 1812. He stands beside an old brick wall which runs the length of the Formal Garden, half hidden by ivy and shrubs. His feet are buried in the ground and his back is attached to the wall.

His melancholy expression has led to him being described as London's saddest statue.

The Ancient Melancholy Man 16th C
unknown artist
Limestone
H 180 cm

1581

Monument to Thomas Hungerford and Wife
Photo credit: Jennette Russell / Art UK

Monument to Thomas Hungerford and Wife

This funerary monument in Chelsea Old Church, Kensington and Chelsea, commemorates the life of Thomas Hungerford and his wife, Ursula Maidenhead.

Hungerford served four monarchs as a gentleman-at-arms or a gentleman pensioner and attended the funerals of the three he outlived (Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I). He saw action at the winning of Boulogne and at Pinkie, and his name occurs on a list of gentlemen-at-arms who had remained loyal to Queen Mary in July 1553.

The words on the frieze, 'O Lord in thee have I trusted, let me never be confounded', are a quotation from the final line of the hymn 'Te Deum Laudamus' as prescribed for Matins in The Book of Common Prayer.

Monument to Thomas Hungerford and Wife 1581
unknown artist
Alabaster & marble

1593

Monument to Thomas Lawrence and Wife
Photo credit: Jennette Russell / Art UK

Monument to Thomas Lawrence and Wife

This funerary monument in Chelsea Old Church, Kensington and Chelsea, commemorates the life of Thomas Lawrence, his wife and their children. The inscription states that he died at aged 54 and that five of his eleven children survived him. Thomas was a Goldsmith and Merchant Adventurer of the City of London.

The accompanying inscription concludes with a 'memento mori' typical of the Post-Reformation period, warning the reader 'that death is sure and time is past renewing'.

1594

Monument to Gregory Fiennes, Lord Dacre, and Anne, Lady Dacre
Photo credit: Jennette Russell / Art UK

Monument to Gregory Fiennes, Lord Dacre, and Anne, Lady Dacre

This tomb, in Chelsea Old Church, commemorates Gregory Fiennes, 10th Baron Dacre, and Anne, Lady Dacre. Gregory was a courtier and the son of Thomas Fiennes, 9th Baron Dacre (c.1515-1541) and Mary Neville. His father was convicted of the murder of a gamekeeper and hanged at Tyburn in 1541 after which his family was stripped of its lands and titles by Henry VIII. On her ascension in 1558 Queen Elizabeth restored the title of Baron Dacre to Gregory, his elder brother Thomas having died of the plague at age 15.

Gregory is depicted in two oil paintings which can be seen on Art UK. One, which shows him with his mother Mary Neville, is in the National Portrait Gallery. The other is in the Guildhall Art Gallery, London.

Monument to Gregory Fiennes, Lord Dacre, and Anne, Lady Dacre 1594
unknown artist
Alabaster & marble

1630

Charles I (1600–1649)
Photo credit: Tracy Jenkins / Art UK

Charles I (1600–1649)

This equestrian statue, the first of its kind in England, was originally commissioned in 1630 by Charles I's Lord Treasurer Sir Richard Weston for his house Mortlake Park, Roehampton. The statue was originally cast in 1633 by Hubert Le Sueur, with the carved pedestal by Joshua Marshall added when the statue was erected in its current position on the site of an Eleanor Cross in 1674–1675.

Charles is represented riding bareheaded and wearing armour. His left hand holds the reins, his right rests on a baton, supported on the pommel of his saddle. Suspended on the king’s chest is the order of St George.

Charles I (1600–1649) 1630–1633 & 1674–1675
Hubert Le Sueur (c.1580–1658) and Joshua Marshall (active 17th C) and Christopher Wren (1632–1723)
Bronze
H 280 x W 236 cm

1631

Monument to Sara Colvile
Photo credit: Jennette Russell / Art UK

Monument to Sara Colvile

Sara was the daughter of Thomas Lawrence, who is also commemorated in a monument in Chelsea Old Church, Kensington and Chelsea. She died in 1631, aged 40. The inscription on her tomb says that she was the 'happy mother of 8 sons and 2 daughters'.

The memorial is the work of John and Matthias Christmas, who are known to have produced several similar resurrection monuments during the mid-17th century. Sara is shown rising from her tomb on the Day of Judgement, wearing a voluminous shroud, tied above the head and, presumably, at the feet. This is typical of shrouds used in the 16th and 17th centuries, before more tailored garments became popular in the 1700s.

Monument to Sara Colvile 1631
John and Matthias Christmas (active c.1628–c.1651)
Alabaster & marble

1632

Memorial to Sir Robert Stanley
Photo credit: Jennette Russell / Art UK

Memorial to Sir Robert Stanley

This funerary monument in Chelsea Old Church, Kensington and Chelsea, commemorates Sir Robert Stanley, an English politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1626.

Stanley was the son of William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby. He was appointed Knight of the Order of the Bath at the coronation of King Charles I on 2 February 1626. In 1626, he was elected Member of Parliament for Lancashire.

Memorial to Sir Robert Stanley 1632
unknown artist
Alabaster & black marble

1669

Memorial to Lady Jane Cheyne and Charles Cheyne
Photo credit: Jennette Russell / Art UK

Memorial to Lady Jane Cheyne and Charles Cheyne

Lady Jane Cheyne, who is commemorated in this memorial in Chelsea Old Church, Kensington and Chelsea, was the daughter of William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle, and later the wife of Charles Cheyne, Viscount Newhaven. She was a benefactor to Chelsea Old Church and the village of Chelsea, using her own money to have the Church re-roofed in 1667. Jane helped manage her father's properties while he spent the English Civil War in exile. She was responsible for a variety of military correspondences and for salvaging many of her family's possessions.

Jane was a poet and playwright. Her literary works include the play ‘The Concealed Fansyes’ written in conjunction with her sister, Lady Elizabeth. The manuscript is in the Bodleian Library.

Memorial to Lady Jane Cheyne and Charles Cheyne 1669
Antonio Raggi I (1624–1686) and Paolo Bernini (b.1648)
Marble

1676

Charles II (1630–1685)
Photo credit: The Royal Hospital Chelsea

Charles II (1630–1685)

This copper and bronze statue stands outside The Royal Hospital Chelsea. Charles II founded the Royal Hospital in 1682 as a home for retired army veterans 'broken by age or war'.

The statue, depicting the king in the attire of a Roman general, was was designed by Grinling Gibbons, an Anglo-Dutch sculptor and wood carver.

The statue originally stood elsewhere and was moved to the Royal Hospital after Charles's death in 1685. Annually, on 29 May, Oak Apple Day, the traditional day for the celebration of the Restoration in 1660, the statue is wreathed with oak leaves.

Charles II (1630–1685) 1676
Grinling Gibbons (1648–1721)
Copper & bronze
H 155 x W 118 cm
The Royal Hospital Chelsea

1686

James II (1633–1701)
Photo credit: Tracy Jenkins / Art UK

James II (1633–1701)

This standing figure in Trafalgar Square depicts James II as a Roman emperor, with his left hand resting on his hip and a crown of laurel on his head. It formerly held a baton in its right hand, though this is now missing.

This sculpture was first erected at the Palace of Whitehall and was later placed in St James's Park. During World War II the statue was put into storage at Aldwych tube station, before being relocated to its present site outside the National Gallery in 1947.

James II (1633–1701) 1686 or before
Grinling Gibbons (1648–1721) (school of)
Bronze & Portland stone
H 206 cm

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Capital and Ball
Photo credit: David Ovenden / Art UK

Capital and Ball

This 17th-century stone globe sundial, on a brick column, shows faint hour lines and faint remains of Roman numerals. It stands on Forest Road, Walthamstow, Waltham Forest.

An inscription around the surface of the ball reads: THIS CAPITOL AND BALL / WAS PART OF / OLD SHERN HALL. Shern Hall was an old manor house in the neighbourhood of the present Shernhall Street, which was demolished in 1896.

Capital and Ball 17th C
unknown artist
Stone