King William III - St James's Square, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 30.433 W 000° 08.118
30U E 698796 N 5710123
Quick Description: This statue of King William III, on horseback, is in the centre of a garden in St James's Square. The garden is private but it is open to the public Monday to Friday. The gates are locked at weekend and is then only accessible to key holders.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 4/13/2012 10:37:41 AM
Waymark Code: WME7BF
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member The Blue Quasar
Views: 2

Long Description:

The statue is cast from bronze and is life-size and sits on top of a bow-ended high stone pedestal that sits on a plinth. The horse has its front, right leg raised and its left hind hoof just touching the "mole hill" - see below. The king is hatless and is wearing the robes of a roman and a sword rests on his left hip. Both hands are holding the reigns and he is looking directly ahead.

The British History website (visit link) tells us:

"The statue bears on its pedestal the date 1807 and the name of Bacon's son, John Bacon, junior. On the authorship the European Magazine commented : 'As this statue has been supposed by some persons to be one of the works left unfinished by the late Mr. Bacon, it is proper to add, that it has been executed entirely since the death of that artist, by a separate contract entered into with the present Mr. Bacon, on whose premises, in Newman Street, the whole was cast.'  It is nevertheless clear that the elder Bacon had prepared designs, and his obituary includes 'an equestrian bronze of William the Third, for St. James's square' among his works. The memoir by the author of the obituary, published in 1801, gives the same description to a monument which Bacon had 'under his hand' at the time of his death. It seems probable that the existing statue is the work of the younger Bacon based on a design or model made by his father.

The statue still occupies its original position in the centre of the square, facing north up Duke of York Street. In 1911 two Trustees assumed ownership of the statue to convey it, under the provisions of the Public Statue Act of 1854, to the Commissioners of Works. The Office of Works then repaired the statue and gave it 'a new near hind leg'.

The design of the statue was probably influenced by that of Rysbrack's equestrian statue of the same monarch in Queen Square, Bristol, with which it compares well. As in Rysbrack's work, William III is portrayed as a Roman general holding a baton in his right hand, his richly curled hair bare, and his martial cloak flung back. He rides a more highly spirited horse than Rysbrack's, with a splendid mane and tail, its head held high, and its right foreleg and left hindleg raised.

The statue is placed so that the horse and rider face north, on a high stone pedestal raised on an oblong sub-plinth. The pedestal itself is bowed at each end and has a moulded base, a high die, a plain frieze-band, and a moulded cornice surmounted by a blocking-course. Each side face of the die has a sunk panel with bronze lettering GVLIELMUS III placed high in the panel, and the east panel alone bears near the base an incised inscription I. BACON, IVNR. SCVLPTR. 1807.

The Secret London website (visit link) tells us how the horse and a molehill contributed to the king's death:

"In 1702, William III’s horse tripped over a molehill and the king broke his collarbone. Recovering at St James’s Palace, he caught a chill and died. Jacobites toasted ‘the little gentleman in black velvet’. You can see the molehill by the horse’s rear legs on this statue of 1800 by John Bacon Jr."

The Spartacus Schoolnet website (visit link) gives a brief biography:

"William, the son of William II of Orange and Mary, eldest daughter of Charles I, was born in 1650. In 1677 Charles II arranged for William to marry Mary, the eldest daughter of James.

William was given command of the Dutch army. He successfully halted the advance of the French army and negotiated favourable peace terms at Nijmegen in 1678.

Just before he died in February 1685, Charles II admitted that he was a Catholic. He also announced that his brother James was to succeed him to the throne.

In June 1685, the Duke of Monmouth landed in England with a small army. As he was a Protestant he expected most of the population to support his claim to the throne, but people in England were unwilling to get involved in another Civil War. Monmouth was therefore easily defeated by the king's army.

After this victory James tried to place Catholic friends in positions of power. However, the Test Acts made it impossible for him to do this. When Parliament refused to change these laws, he ignored it and began appointing Catholics to senior positions in the army and the government.

James also announced that he intended to allow Catholics to have complete religious freedom in England. When the Archbishop of Canterbury and six other bishops objected to this, James gave instructions for them to be arrested and sent to the Tower of London.

Some members of the House of Commons sent messages to Holland inviting William and Mary to come to England. Mary and William were told that, as they were Protestants, they would have the support of Parliament if they attempted to overthrow James.

In November 1688, William and his Dutch army arrived in England. When the English army refused to accept the orders of their Catholic officers, James fled to France. As the overthrow of James had taken place without a violent Civil War, this event became known as the Glorious Revolution.

William and Mary were now appointed by Parliament as joint sovereigns. However, Parliament was determined that it would not have another monarch that ruled without its consent. The king and queen had to promise they would always obey laws made by Parliament. They also agreed that they would never raise money without Parliament's permission. So that they could not get their own way by the use of force, William and Mary were not allowed to keep control of their own army. In 1689 this agreement was confirmed by the passing of the Bill of Rights.

William also defeated the supporters of James at Killiecrankie (1689), Boyne (1690) and Limerick (1691). He also led a successful military campaign in Europe.

Mary died of smallpox in 1694. William now ruled on his own and important reforms included the establishment of the Bank of England (1694) and removing restrictions on the press (1695). In 1698 William transferred control of the standing army to the House of Commons.

William III died after falling from his horse in 1702. He was childless and was succeeded by Mary's sister, Anne.

Monarch Ranking: King / Queen

Proper Title and Name of Monarch: King William III

Country or Empire of Influence: Great Britain, France & Ireland

Website for additonal information: [Web Link]

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