The Duke of York Column is a monument in London, England, to Prince Frederick, Duke of York, the second eldest son of King George III. The designer was Benjamin Dean Wyatt. It is sited near where Regent Street meets The Mall at Waterloo Place, in between the two terraces of Carlton House Terrace—the steps down to the Mall are known as the Duke of York Steps.
Prince Frederick, Duke of York was the commander-in-chief of the British Army during the French Revolutionary Wars and led the reform of the army into a capable modernised force. The Duke is remembered in the children's nursery rhyme, "The Grand Old Duke of York". When he died in 1827, the entire British Army voted to forgo one day's wages in order to pay for a monument to the Duke.
When the sum of subscriptions for a monument to the duke reached £21,000, the committee overseeing the project asked a number of architects to submit proposals, and in December 1830 they chose a design by Benjamin Dean Wyatt. The mason Nowell of Pimlico, was contracted to build the column for a sum of £15,760. Excavations for the concrete foundations began on 27 April 1831. The ground was excavated to a layer of natural soil, around 22 ft 0 in (6.71 m) below street level. A layer of York stone slabs at a depth of around 11 ft 0 in (3.35 m) was used to consolidate the concrete, and another was placed at the top of the foundations, as a base for the masonry. The foundations were completed on 25 June 1831, and construction of the stonework began three weeks later.
The column is of the Tuscan order. It is built of granite from Aberdeenshire; a light grey variety was used for the pedestal, a bluer grey type for the base of the shaft, and red Peterhead granite for the rest of the structure. There is an iron railing around the abacus of the capital. At the centre of the capital, on a plinth, is a bronze statue of the duke dressed in the robes of the Knights of the Garter, by Sir Richard Westmacott. It is 13 ft 6 in (4.11 m) tall, weighs 16,840 pounds (7,640 kg) and was raised on 8 April 1834.
Inside the hollow column a spiral staircase of 168 steps, lit by apertures in the outside wall, leads to the viewing platform around the base of the statue. This means of ascent has been closed to the public for many decades.
The great height of the column caused wits to suggest that the Duke was trying to escape his creditors, as the Duke died £2 million in debt.
- "Victorian London - Buildings, Monuments and Museums - Duke of York's column". Victorian London.
- Timbs, John (1835). Arcana of Science and Art. London: John Limbird. pp. 29–31.
- Timbs, John (1858). Curiosities of London. London. p. 284.
- G. H. Gater and F. R. Hiorns (editor) (1940). "Carlton House Terrace and Carlton Gardens". Survey of London: volume 20: St Martin-in-the-Fields, pt III: Trafalgar Square & Neighbourhood. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
THE MECHANIC'S MAGAZINE, MUSEUM, REGISTER, JOURNAL AND GAZETTE Vol 574 Aug 9 1834 pp 306 to 311 - a contemporary report on the building of the monument http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=FA8FAAAAQAAJ