Charing Cross & King Charles Statue

This video tells the story of how Charing Cross got its name and how the statue of King Charles ended up standing at the very centre of London.

The statue originally stood in Covent Garden but during the revolution of 1642 – 1651 Oliver Cromwell ordered all statues of King Charles to be taken down. The job of melting down the statue was given to a fellow called John Rivett. However, he was a rather cunning chap and instead of melting it he hid it in his garden. He then proceeded to make a fortune selling souvenirs supposedly made out of the melted down statue of King Charles which were obviously quite in demand.

Then, after the restoration of the monarchy, he approached King Charles the second, and offered to sell the statue back to him! The king had it positioned at the very spot where the original Charing Cross stood facing down Whitehall towards Parliament (where later they would erect a statue of his nemesis, Oliver Cromwell).

There is a plaque on the ground here explaining that this is the point from which all distances in the kingdom are measured.

It is also where Charing Cross used to stand, but a replica now stands outside Charing Cross station.
It is often overlooked but when the wife of Edward the first died in the 13th century Edward Longshanks as he was known (or the king from Braveheart) had 12 of these beautifully carved monuments erected along the east of England stretching along Eleanor of Castile’s funeral cortege form Lincoln all the way to London.
Each one had a tall cross on top of it and the final one was placed here at the centre of London and called Charing Cross.

Three of the originals still survive such as the one at Waltham Cross but the one at Charing Cross is a replica, still rather beautiful though.

Get directions with Citymapper

Rather Splendid London Walks Book

In this book of 20 walks, I will show you some of the fun, interesting, weird and ridiculous things I’ve noticed on my travels around London