When I was in London the other week, I walked towards Westminster Abbey and stopped at a little square near it’s Western entrance. There I noticed a tall column, obviously a memorial of some kind which I never noticed before (shame on me).
It is probably easy to look as you are standing there in front of a magnificent edifice of the Gothic Abbey, but this time it draw me nearer. Perhaps, because the D-Day celebrations were so fresh in my memory and left such a huge impact, everything connected to a war was especially interesting.
The memorial was a red granite column with a Portland stone base. There were some figures carved from grey stone and the inscriptions were carved into Portland stone. The column was surrounded by statues of kings and queens, George and the Dragon and four lions.
What was it?!
It is called Westminster Scholars Memorial, probably because it was erected close to Westminster School which is in the building behind it.
This memorial is dedicated to former scholars from this school that lost their lives in two 19th century conflicts – the Russian War (1854-1856) and the Indian War (1857-1858) .
On one side there were quite a lot of names, some of them almost unreadable as the Portland stone has not weathered well over the last 150 years.
And on the other side there was this inscription which – for some reason – really touched me. It said:
“To the Memory of those
educated at Westminster School,
who died in the Russian and Indian Wars,
on the Field of Battle,
or from wounds or Sickness
Some in early Youth,
Some full of Years and Honours,
but who all alike
Gave their Lives for their Country,
This Column was erected
by their old Schoolfellows,
in token of Sorrow for their Loss,
of Pride in their Valour,
and in full assurance
that the Remembrance of their Heroism
in Life and Death
will inspire their Successors at Westminster
with the same Courage and Self-Devotion.”