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Friends Visit to Albert Memorial Undercroft

Friends Visit to Albert Memorial Undercroft


You may, like me, have known the Albert Memorial all your life or for some of your life, but I wonder if you know what lies beneath?

On 17 April about 22 members found out. On a beautiful spring afternoon the Memorial looked stunning with the gold glinting in the sunshine. After a slightly delayed start as the all important key to the secret entrance was retrieved from its home, the first group got kitted up with hard hats and torches. We carefully went down some proper stone steps and along a smallish tunnel to find ourselves in an amazing almost cathedral-like space with a large brick structure of arches. The structure is in three rings inside each other with a big stone pillar in the middle upon which the statue of Albert sits up top. The brickwork is in good condition as it is not exposed to weather or pollutants or pests of any sort and provides the base for the imposing steps and the memorial itself. We had plenty of time to look around and admire the craftsmanship that went into the building back in the 1860s.

The second group meanwhile had been on a guided tour of the South Flower Walk. We now did this, in the expert company of Teresa Short the interim Kensington Garden Manager. Next a bit of doggie drama when a little dachshund came into our midst and we realised he had lost his owner. I managed to pick him up, Sue Price read out the phone number on his collar and a third member phoned the number! Little Pepper was soon reunited with his young owner –a happy ending. Lots of people were enjoying the sunshine in the flower walk and we enjoyed hearing about the planting and the pests. We admired a very old weeping beech tree which features in the story of Peter Pan and KG.

Accompanied by Richard Price who gave an enjoyable talk about the Memorial both groups then went inside the Memorial’s railings and up the steps to admire all four sides of the Parnassus frieze and the corner tableaux. Along each side one historical figure is seated in the middle indicating that he is the most important one. There is just one lady amongst all the gentlemen, whose name I’m afraid I have already forgotten. I particularly enjoyed looking at all the figures’ footwear – which ranges from bare foot to complex sandals!

Finally we headed to the very attractive kiosk for a drink and a cake (or ice cream) and a chat.

With huge thanks to Sue and Richard Price, Andy Williams (the Hyde Park manager), Teresa and all their Royal Parks colleagues for making this such a wonderful and memorable visit.

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