Wednesday 30th September 1846

The statue of the Duke of Wellington has arrived at its destination at the top of the Triumphal Arch opposite St George’s Hospital, Hyde Park Corner. I was there before 7 o’clock in the morning and had a fine view of the statue as it stood on the ground, and a splendid thing it is too. I went again at midday, but it was in the same place, only that it was turned round. I went again at night after business and it was then suspended nearly its full height, when I saw it drawn higher and finally wheeled on the arch, the apparatus moving with it. The scaffolding is a grand affair and has been above three months erecting.

The weather this month has been changeable, the former part to about the 20th intensely warm, like the middle of July, when it changed to almost winter. At present being so cold in the morning early that I am glad to wear gloves.

At the present time is being razed to the ground … old fabric the rectory of St James Piccadilly, corner of Church Place, which has stood about 160 years and was stated in the newspaper to have been one of Sir Christopher Wren’s architecture. It was built with red bricks and at the side had circular windows and in front sashes of immense thickness, the upper ones opening on hinges with diamond panes. The lower windows strongly … with iron bars; the cisterns were visible … Court, as also the water closet.”

Tuesday 29th September 1846

“Arrival of the Duke of Wellington’s statue at the Triumphal Arch opposite St George’s Hospital. At half past 12 o’clock I went to the top of Grosvenor Place to see if the Duke of Wellington’s statue had arrived, but it had not; but Piccadilly was lined with persons to witness its arrival, but I was obliged to get back to business in my hour.  It arrived between 1 and 2 o’clock. The carriage was drawn by Goding the brewer’s horses; it was said there would be 40, but an eye witness (R Latham) counted but 29, with a man to each horse. The weight of the carriage was stated to be about 20 tons, and of the statue about 40, and to the top of his head 40 feet. On the roof of Apsley House, the Duke’s residence, many persons were assembled which I suppose was the servants and their acquaintances. Coming home I peeped between the board enclosure and caught a glimpse of the horse’s hind quarters by moonlight.”


[Editor’s note:  Matthew Cotes Wyatt’s equestrian statue to the Duke of Wellington was removed in 1883 when the arch was moved to a new position.  It is now in Aldershot, Hampshire.  In 1912 the Quadriga, or four-horse chariot, designed by Adrian Jones, took its position on the arch.  Goding’s Brewery stood on the site of the Royal Festival Hall.  A Coade stone lion from this brewery is on the southern end of Westminster Bridge.]

Monday 29th June 1846

“Balloon went up from Cremorne Gardens, Chelsea. Saw it very plain in the Quadrant. Grand Review in Hyde Park this morning, His Grace the Duke of Wellington Commander in Chief.

The weather this month has been extremely warm and dry, things scorched up for the want of rain till the 22nd, since which we have had slight intermediate rains which gives hopes yet of a favourable harvest.

Coals sold at Eccleston Wharf this month: 908 tons 6 sacks.

The new carriage and foot road fronting Chelsea Hospital was opened the 16th instant: this is a decided improvement, being before so very narrow, and looking so confined.

St James’s Church Piccadilly has a new painted window being put in place of the old one which was very plain, having no stained glass. The present from without, though not finished, looks very showy.

There is now erecting a strong scaffold at the top of the Triumphal Arch, Constitution Hill, opposite Hyde Park Gates, and immediately fronting St George’s Hospital, for the purpose of erecting an equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington, which will be very conspicuous from the Duke’s residence, Apsley House. It is expected it will shortly be erected.

This month has been unfortunate to our family for illness, my mother being very bad all the month and at one time not expected to live and still keeping her bed. My Uncle John Shepard has also had a severe attack of the lumbago in his back, which confined him to his bed about a fortnight, but from which he is now fast recovering, though unable to work. Myself have been very indisposed, having a stoppage in my bowels accompanied with a severe headache, which one time I thought would have confined me also, but have managed to keep my work. Granny Shepard has been nearly knocked up with attending on them, her son and daughter. It also fatigued M Ward very much having his rest broke every night by attending a sick wife, and also attending the bugs, which in their room in warm weather, almost devour them.”


[Editor’s note: No entries on 30 June or 1 July]

Wednesday 27th May 1846

“Grand Derby day at Epsom. Saw plenty of company returning therefrom down Grosvenor Place, which was each side thronged with spectators shouting out and hurrahing, which immediately fronting St George’s Hospital I thought improper. Mr George Lea absent all day, no doubt at the races, though much more quietly done than last year. Winning horse ‘Pyrrhus the First’ the property of Mr Gully, formerly a celebrated pugilist in the prize ring.”


[Editor’s note: The trainer of the ‘Pyrrhus the First’ was John Day, who was later accused of malpractice in the 1868 Derby by Admiral Rous.  The winning jockey was Sam Day, the great-great uncle of Lester Piggott.
No diary entry on 28 May]

Saturday 28th February 1846

” — Matthew Ward gave me to understand that it was time I paid something towards the rent, but I remain unmoved. Thoughts at work too concerned how to act. Must shortly see about getting a home of my own. — The west end of Piccadilly, the length of the Green Park and on that side the way, there has been great alterations made viz the foot pavement has been thrown back some feet, so that the trees that were formerly enclosed in the iron railing are now in line with the kerb, the railing being also removed back, thereby allowing considerably more room for the carriage way.

At the top of Piccadilly, near to Hyde Park Gates and directly opposite St George’s Hospital, has been lately erected three urinals, or places of convenience for the male sex, built of stone.

The weather this month has been most wonderful with the exception of about three days slight frosts it has been quite warm, more resembling May or September. This winter will be one remembered for years to come, as such weather for the season was never remembered by the oldest person now living, to commence so mild, and continue so all through. But it is not too late yet for frosty weather to come, as March month is generally considered a cold one. But as yet it is most extraordinary. To my recollection I have never passed a winter through without chilblains, more or less severe, but this winter I have had no signs of any. Nay, this day February 28th, I sat in office with windows and door both open to admit of a little air and so close was it in the evening that I was obliged to book the day’s work in my shirt sleeves. The trees are now budding out very fast while some bear small leaves already.

Coals sold at Eccleston Wharf this month: 1476 and nine twentieths tons.”