This is the oldest statue in the Square, and it has the most dramatic story.

The statue designed by Hubert Le Sueur was completed in 1638. It is believed to be the first statue of an English King on horseback. Showing Charles on a horse made him look impressive, and Charles seems to have been very conscious of being small. Although he was actually only 5 feet 4 the King specified that his statue was to be 6 feet tall.

Charles I became King in March 1625, but his reign came to an abrupt end following his defeat in the Civil War by Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell gave orders for the statue to be destroyed. The statue was hidden in a garden where it stayed until Charles II had it re-erected in the Square. Its pedestal is believed to have been carved by Joshua Marshall, an employee of the famous carver Grinling Gibbons.

The statue stands on the site of the original Charing Cross. A plaque set into the floor commemorates the monument�s site and marks the point from which distances from London are measured. Every January wreaths are laid under the statue to commemorate the King�s beheading outside the Banqueting House in 1649.


Contemporary photographs by Jeremy Young

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