I have a number of prints of the Palace of Westminster from the period shortly after it was built. They show that housing occupied the land between the Palace and Lambeth Bridge. Since then, the buildings have been demolished and replaced by Victoria Tower Gardens. As regular readers will know from an earlier post, it is one of my favourite spots. I not only like to walk through the Gardens on the way to the Palace, but also to spend a few minutes sitting there, looking across at Lambeth Palace.
The Gardens house what is a relatively recent acquisition: the Buxton Memorial. It comprises a magnificent drinking fountain designed in 1865 in order to mark the emancipation of slaves in the British empire in 1834. It was commissioned by Charles Buxton MP to mark the work of his father and others, such as Hull MP William Wilberforce, who campaigned for the abolition of slavery. It used to stand in the north-west corner of Parliament Square, but in 1957 was moved to the Gardens. It was restored in 2007 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade. The restoration has been extremely successful and it now stands in its full glory.