This vibrant public park is part of the chain of open spaces along Victoria Embankment, designed by Sir Joseph Bazelgette and opened in 1865.
The park provides a welcome retreat from busy Embankment and bustling Villiers Street and is popular with office workers as a pleasant space to eat lunch and relax. There are grass areas with impressive bedding displays throughout the year. A bandstand has a programme of events throughout the summer and visitors to the gardens can sit in deckchairs to enjoy.
The historical Watergate is in one corner of the park, built in 1626 as an entrance to the Thames for the Duke of Buckingham. The gate is still in its original position, but since its creation the Thames water line has moved and the gate is some 100 metres from the water.
The gardens have a beautiful memorial to the Imperial Camel Corps.
The unit of mounted infantry was created in December 1916 from troop that had served in the Gallipoli campaign in the Dardanelles.
The memorial was sculpted by Major Cecil Brown, who served in the corps, with bronze elements cast by A.B. Burton at his Thames Ditton Foundry. It comprises a smaller-than-life-size bronze statue of a man riding a camel, on a Portland stone pedestal that bears bronze panels on its four sides. Two bronze plaques list the names of all 346 men who died while serving with the corps in Egypt, Sinai and Palestine between 1916 and 1918: 191 from Australia on the east plaque, and 106 from the UK, 41 from New Zealand, and 9 from India on the west plaque. The bronze panel to the south depicts two soldiers running, and the fourth to the north depicts two officers next to a camel.
There is a bronze statue of Robert Burns, attired in the rustic dress of the peasant of Scotland at the time, seated on the broken stump of a tree, in ‘the act of composing. Near the foot of the figure is a scroll with the text from Burns’ poem To William Simpson Of Ochiltree and beside it a broken ploughshare.
On the rock is written: the gift of john gordon crawford 1884.
The statue of Sir Wilfrid Lawson, a radical politician , is an outdoor sculpture by David McGill. The monument’s allegorical sculptures depicting Charity, Fortitude, Peace, and Temperance were stolen in 1979.
The memorial to British economist, politician, and statesman Henry Fawcett was intended to continue to serve the people as a water fountain on the Victoria Embankment Gardens.
The Cheylesmore Memorial is a Grade II listed outdoor stone memorial dedicated to British Army officer Herbert Eaton, 3rd Baron Cheylesmore. The memorial was designed by Edwin Lutyens and unveiled in 1930. At the dedication ceremony on 17 July 1930, the memorial was unveiled by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, the third son of Queen Victoria. The memorial is made of Portland stone and has seats backing on to a decorative screen facing a small pond.
A statue of Robert Raikes, often regarded as being the founder of Sunday schools, executed by the sculptor Thomas Brock stands here. It was unveiled by the Earl of Shaftesbury on 3 July 1880 and marked the centenary of the opening of the first Sunday school.
Nearly three years after the death of the legendary composer Sir Arthur Sullivan, Welsh sculptor Sir William Goscombe John’s memorial was unveiled in Victoria Embankment Gardens by Princess Louise on 10 July 1903. The monument features a weeping Muse of Music, who is so distraught her clothes are falling off as she leans against the pedestal. This topless Muse has led some art critics to describe the memorial as the sexiest statue in the capital. The sculpture is topped with a bust of Sullivan. At the bottom of the pedestal is a mask of Pan, sheet music from The Yeoman Of The Guard and a mandolin inscribed with W Goscombe John A.R.A. 1903.
Opposite of Cleopatra’s Needle, on the back of Victoria Embankment Garden is the Anglo-Belgian Memorial, also known as the Belgian Gratitude Memorial or the Belgian Refugees Memorial. It was a gift from Belgium, as a mark of thanks for assistance given by the UK during the First World War, and in particular for sheltering thousands of Belgian refugees who fled from the war.
Plans for a Belgian war memorial in London were proposed by a group of Belgians in 1916, to be funded by public subscription. The memorial was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield. Its main feature is a central bronze sculpture by Belgian sculptor Victor Rousseau, who himself spent time as a refugee in London during the war. It depicts a Belgian woman, accompanied by a boy and a girl carrying garlands of flowers. The bronze stands on a stone plinth which bears the inscription, “To the British nation from the grateful people of Belgium, 1914–1918”.
The central group is sheltered by a curved screen wall of Portland stone, which bears two further relief sculptures (now quite worn) representing “Justice” (left) and “Honour” (right). The wall also bears carved wreaths and nine heraldic shields, representing the provinces of Belgium: Brabant, Antwerp, Liège, Hainault, Namur, Limburg, Luxembourg, East Flanders and West Flanders.
Vandals damaged the memorial in July 1920, while it was under construction, and for a time it was guarded by a nightwatchman. It was unveiled by Princess Clémentine of Belgium at a ceremony on 12 October 1920. The ceremony was attended by the Prime Minister of Belgium Leon Delacroix, and the gift was formally accepted on behalf of the British nation by Lord Curzon. In response, an Anglo-Belgian Memorial was erected in Brussels in 1923, designed by British sculptor Charles Sargeant Jagger.
And here’s the location of the garden: