King Alfred Statue
Restoration of the statue
King Alfred has stood at the centre of Trinity Church Square since c. 1826, conservation work was undertaken over summer 2021 and the work revealed an exciting discovery…
Examination of the Bath Stone by Dr Kevin Hayward of PCA Archaeology confirmed the stone was a South Cotswold Limestone, a type of Bath Stone used in around 90% of Roman native stone sculpture in London. Discussions with Professor Martin Henig, a leading Roman art specialist, led to the conclusion that the Bath Stone half was from a statue of the goddess Minerva. Measurements of the leg indicate the original statue was around 3m in height making it the largest native stone sculpture yet found from Roman Britain. Showing well-carved muscle definition, the Minerva statue was likely to have been carved by a continental craftsman used to working British stone. Carvings of this quality are typical of the mid-2nd century AD and it probably belonged to a temple complex. There was a major temple complex partly excavated in Southwark at nearby Tabard Square in 2002. Research into the sculptor of the Coade Stone Alfred is ongoing. It is likely that the top half of the statue was fired in one piece and then cut up to fit around the Roman fragment.
The Alfred statue had long been thought to have some early origin, perhaps as a long-lost statue from the Richard II statues once on the north face of Westminster Hall, removed by Sir John Soane in c. 1825… As a statue with Roman origins it makes an exceptionally exciting contribution to London’s heritage.