History is made manifest through monuments. Through art and architecture, patrons sought to perpetuate memories and keep the dead in mind. In so doing, they created some of the highest achievements of English art. This broad survey course looks at ways of remembering, from the emergence of modern modes of public honour in the 17th century, to the assertive memorials of the Empire at its zenith under Queen Victoria. We go back to prehistory, look at the medieval cult of death, and bring the story up to date with the issues of memorials to women. And we consider how modern values are starting to question the monuments of yesteryear, and ask questions of how we engage with the tributes of distant generations.
This course looks at the rise of the public statue, the face of royal commemoration, the ways of honouring military and naval losses, and the rise of private memorials. Visits range from ancient places of sepulture in Wessex to the great shrines of Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral, the finest depositories of sculpture in Britain. We look at the cult of the churchyards, and include a visit to Stoke Poges, scene of Thomas Gray’s Elegy in a Country Churchyard (1750). Some of the grandest Baroque ensembles like Greenwich Hospital, and Blenheim Palace, created imposing theatres of honour. Landscapes of memory arose in Georgian England, heralding the emergence of the garden cemetery, while in towns the public realm began to be peopled with tributes to the great men of ages past. 2018, the centenary of the end of World War One, is a good year to consider war memorials too.