WW1 Monument Family Walk or Bike Ride
STARTING POINT: Paddington Station
Large Bronze Soldier - Charles Sargeant Jaggers(1922)
Halfway down platform 1, woollen scarf round his neck, his greatcoat over his shoulders, reading a letter from home. This tribute to the GWR employees who fought in the Great War is one of the most intimate and poignant memorials you will see.
STOP 2: Animals in War (+ 20 mins)
At the first traffic lights, cross into the middle of the carriageway.
Animals in War, 2004
A beautiful simple Portland stone plinth, two bronze mules laden with battle gear troop up from one side and on the other is a powerful horse and a trusty dog. Immediately engaging to children, the list of the donors who made it possible is worth reading too - surely the only memorial that includes thanks to the Amalgamation for Racing Pigeons.
STOP 3: Hyde Park Corner (+ 10 mins)
Royal Artillery Memorial - Charles Sargeant Jaggers, 1925
The stone gun on the top of the plinth is a BL 9.2 inch Ml1 howitzer (copied from one in the Imperial War Museum) and is surrounded on each side by a bronze figure: a driver to the west, an artillery captain on the east, a shell carrier to the north and a dead soldier on the south. The realism of the images of the wartime carnage, in stone relief around the base of the plinth, is almost unbearably powerful. I have driven past this most of my life and had never once stopped to look.
STOP 4: Westminster Abbey (+ 30 mins, inc. some bike pushing)
The Grave of the Unknown Warrior (Abbey still open for Worship)
Resting in the Eastern entrance to the Abbey is the Grave of the Unknown Warrior. The nameless soldier's body was brought from France to be buried here on 11 November 1920. Time your visit with a service as the Abbey is closed to general visitors during the pandemic.
STOP 5: The Cenotaph (+ 10 mins)
The Cenotaph - Edwin Lutyens 1920
The unveiling ceremony for the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day 1920 was part of a larger procession bringing the Unknown Warrior to be laid to rest in the Abbey. The funeral procession route passed the Cenotaph, where the waiting King laid a wreath on the Unknown Warrior's gun-carriage before proceeding to unveil the memorial.
LAST STOP Royal Air Force Memorial (+ 5 mins)
Royal Air Force Memorial - 1923
Turn back towards Parliament Square. Almost directly in front of the London Eye (on the Embankment side) is the soaring RAF Memorial.