Monday, 1 August 2016

George I, St George's, Bloomsbury.

The Statue of George I.
In Roman Armour
On the Steeple of St Georges Church, Bloomsbury.
Carved by Edward Strong Jnr. (1676 - 1741).
Now very weathered
The Portland stone statue standing on a Roman Alter was carved by Edward Strong Junior, Master Mason.
It is 11 ft. tall and cost £90he was paid on 25 March 1724 - 5. He also carved the lions and unicorns for which he received £30 each and four crowns £7 each,  Bill of Works, St George's Bloomsbury.
See The Eighteenth Century Church in Britain by Terry Friedman, pub Yale, 2011.
For Strong see - Dictionary of Sculptors ..... Roscoe et al, 2009.
He was responsible along with works at St Pauls Cathedral and various post Great Fire London Churches, the colonnade at the Queens House, Greenwich and he built the North front of Canons for the Duke of Chandos.
The Strong Family painted by Charles Philips (1703 - 47).
75.2 x 94 cms
Oil on Canvas.
Names inscribed across the bottom of what is evidently a later frame help identify some of the figures in the picture (see Notes below). Edward Strong (1676–1741), the standing man in black, succeeded his uncle, Thomas, and his father, also Edward, as a master mason at the cathedral of St. Paul’s in London, built between 1675, when Thomas laid the first stone, and 1708, when Edward Senior laid the last.
Seated next to him, in blue, is his daughter Susan, Lady Strange. The older woman at left is Mrs. Strong, and the two little girls near her are her granddaughters and Lady Strange's daughters, Mary, later Lady Nares, and Lucy, later Lady Wheler.
The boy is identified as Mary's husband, Sir George Nares, which is unlikely since he was sixteen in 1732 when the picture was painted and did not marry into the family until 1751. Mary and George's son Dr. Edward Nares married Lady Charlotte Spencer Churchill, daughter of the fourth Duke of Marlborough, in 1797, which explains how the picture formerly came to be known as The Churchill Family (information provided by Oliver Nares, a descendant; correspondence of 2009 in departmental files). The painting descended in the Nares family until 1930.
The following inscription appears across the bottom of what is probably a later frame: (below seated woman at left and three children next to her) MRS. STRONG Sir GEORGE NARES LADY NARES LADY WHELER; (below standing man in black and seated woman in blue) MR. EDWARD STRONG / BUILDER OF ST. PAUL'S. LADY STRANGE; (at right) by PHILIPS pinx. 1732.

Edward Strong (1676–1741) of Greenwich succeeded his father, Edward (1652–1723), and uncle, Thomas (ca. 1634–1681), as a master mason at St. Paul's, built between 1675 and 1708. His daughter Susan, or Susanna (1701–1747), married Sir John Strange (1696–1754). Their daughter Lucy Strange (1731–1800) married the Reverend Sir Charles Wheler (1730–1821), prebendary (honorary canon) of York cathedral, in 1762. Her sister Mary Strange (1726–1782) married Sir George Nares (1716–1786), a lawyer, in 1751.
Info and image from Metropolitan Museum, New York.
The Description of St Georges Bloomsbury from Old and New London Vol 4, Pub. London 1878.
On the north side of this street stands the Church of St. George. To use the words of the "Pocket Guide to London," this church "enjoys the privilege of being at once the most pretentious and the ugliest ecclesiastical edifice in the metropolis. All the absurdities of the classic style are here apparent.
It was designed by Hawkesmoor, the pupil of Sir C. Wren, and was completed in 1731. The architect chose for his model the description given by Pliny of the tomb of Mausolus, in Caria; ( modern day Bodrum, Turkey) but if the original possessed all the faults of the copy, we can scarcely understand its having been considered one of the seven wonders of the world, unless viewed in the light of a monstrosity. This church has a tower and steeple at the side of the main edifice: upon the former, at the four sides, is a range of Corinthian pillars, placed there apparently for no earthly use.
The steeple consists of a series of steps, with the royal arms, guarded by excessively fierce-looking lions and unicorns, and on the summit is a statue of King George I. in a Roman costume."
The statue of the king is said to have been the gift of a loyal brewer, Mr. William Hucks, sometime M.P. for Abingdon and Wallingford. On the statue being placed in its exalted situation a wag wrote the following epigram on it:—
"The King of Great Britain was reckoned before
The 'Head of the Church' by all good Christian people;
But his brewer has added still one title more
To the rest, and has made him the 'Head of the
Horace Walpole, who speaks of this steeple as "a master-stroke of absurdity, consisting of an obelisk, crowned with the statue of King George I., and hugged by the royal supporters," treats us with the following version of the same epigram:— "When Harry the Eighth left the Pope in the lurch,
The people of England made him 'Head of the Church;'
But George's good subjects, the Bloomsbury people,
Instead of the Church made him 'Head of the Steeple.'"
View of the church from the street, showing the portico with Corinthian columns at the entrance, and the peculiar steeple with the statue of George I at the top in Roman garb; elegantly dressed figures on street in front; illustration to the Picturesque Tour.  1799  Etching and aquatint
Thomas Malton
375 x 288 trimmed
British Museum.
To the most noble John, Duke of Bedford. This plan of the united parishes of St. Giles in the Fields & St. George, Bloomsbury (1824)
Map of Bloomsbury by James Wyld, 1824.
Bottom left is a statue of the Duke of Bedford by Westmacott..
British Library.
For the restoration of the beasts on the base of the steeple see -

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