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Trafalgar Square, London

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Trafalgar Square London

Trafalgar Square London sits near the top of anyone’s checklist on a sightseeing visit to London, together with Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the London Eye.  Although the square has a lot of history itself; it is not just historic nationally, it also features in photography history.  Henry Fox Talbot, the father of the negative-positive photography process took photographs of Trafalgar Square while it was being constructed in April 1844.  Fox Talbot invented the negative-positive process which was the first to allow multiple copies to be made from a single photographic image.  This was probably one the first photographs ever made.

Today Trafalgar Square is a major magnet for tourists.  While you can always just take pictures around the fountains, there are some interesting features around the square.   On the square you have Nelson’s column and various plinths and statues, including the so-called Fourth Plinth.  The Fourth Plinth sat empty for years before becoming probably the most famous public art commission in the world.  Behind the Fourth Plinth is the National Gallery and on an adjacent side you will find St. Martin in the Fields church.

Nelson’s Column

Nelson’s Column commemorates Admiral Horatio Nelson who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.  Any keen listeners to BBC Radio’s Shipping Forecast will know Trafalgar lies in the Atlantic off the south-west coast of Spain.  The British Royal Navy engaged the French and Spanish who lost 22 of their 32 ships, while the Royal Navy did not lose a single ship.  The panels around the fours panels around the base of the column are made from the melted guns of French ships captured during the battle.  JMW Turner’s largest painting of the Battle of Trafalgar is on display at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich meanwhile the Turner Collection at Tate Modern features sketches as well as other work based around the battle.

National Gallery

At the National Gallery you can see priceless painting from Leonardo da Vinci to Vincent van Gogh for free.  Here is a list of 30 must-see paintings at the National Gallery including work from John Constable and Hans Holbein the Younger as well as Michelangelo.  Famously, Prince Charles called the proposed extension to the National Gallery a ‘monstrous carbuncle‘ which sparked some controversy.  The National Gallery is on the north side of Trafalgar Square London.

St. Martin in the Fields

The church on the east side of Trafalgar Square is St. Martin in the Fields.  As well as regular services, there are frequent concerts at this Trafalgar Square London church.  The current upcoming programme here features saxophone, piano and organ concerts as well as Christmas Carols by Candlelight.  There is an annual St Martin in the Fields Christmas Appeal together with BBC Radio 4 which helps homeless and vulnerably housed people.  You can visit to donate.

Fourth Plinth

Trafalgar Square London’s Fourth Plinth was empty from 1841 up until 1999.  There has been some speculation that perhaps it is being reserved for a statue of Her Majesty the Queen.  Since 1999 various art work has appeared on the Plinth.  One  Anthony Gormley commission, allowed members of the public to apply to spend an hour on the plinth.  Members of the public featured in ‘One and Another‘ for a 100 day period over the summer of 2009!  You can see what’s currently on at the Fourth Plinth on theMayor of London’s website.

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square, London
Trafalgar Square, London

This is a picture that I captured on black and white Ilford HP5 Film earlier this year at Trafalgar Square.  There was definitely a Christmassy feel as London was almost brought to a halt by the extreme weather.  The bench, normally a good spot for people watching, was not quite as inviting as usual on this occasion! These are the steps at the north-east corner of Trafalgar Square and you can see the National Gallery in the background. I developed the film in Kodak D76.

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