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School of History, Philosophy and Culture
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+44 (0)1865 483583
Matthew joined the staff at Oxford Brookes in January 2005 from Leicester University. He was awarded his PhD in 1992 by University College, London for his thesis, ‘The London trade in monumental sculpture and the imagery of the family in monumental art, 1720-1760’. He held a Fellowship at Churchill College, Cambridge from 1995-1998. In 1998 he was the Henry Moore Centre Fellow at Leeds and from 1998-2000 Henry Moore Foundation Fellow. In 2001-2002 he was the Leverhulme Fellow of the National Portrait Gallery. In 2012 he was a Visiting Professor at Yale University and was awarded a Paul Mellon Centre Senior Fellowship.
This essay is an account of the attempt to erect a massive allegorical monument to George III in central London. This was intended to represent the King as a Grecian charioteer, leading four spirited stallions over a prone hydra, symbolic of Faction. Those who devised this imagery clearly set out to create a conspicuous expression of their trenchant opposition to political reform. The essay centres upon a description of how plans for such a monument were frustrated by the inability of the subscription committee to raise funds. It reveals how the political ambition to provide an emblem of the crushing of public disorder dissolved in the face of public apathy and opposition. The project was finally realised through the erection of an equestrian monument to the King on Cockspur Street. The story of this monument is set within a broader account of Georgian urban planning. The, largely forgotten, plans of a political set, based at Belvoir Castle in Rutlandshire, to reshape London are reviewed. This clique did not just propose the monument to George III, they presented their contemporaries with elaborate plans to rebuild the Capital. The politics of the Belvoir set were Tory and one of the aims of this essay is to urge a reconsideration of the assumption, based on Everett’s The Tory View of Landscape, that persons of this political persuasion were not concerned with landscape improvements. Indeed, the aim is to show that Tories, of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, had a great interest in metropolitan improvements. This essay shows that some Tories were preoccupied with changing the urban landscape, employing ‘improvements’ to establish more clearly in the public mind the virtues of traditional social order. This order was to proceed from the authority of the crown.