Fallen Heroes

The destruction of statues is one of the most powerful symbols of conflict and change - as the world witnessed in Baghdad this year.

But such iconoclasm isn't just the fate of vainglorious foreign dictators.

Architectural historian Joe Kerr tells the story behind the deliberate removal of five monuments that once took pride of place much closer to home.

show more detailshow less detail

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
03Epstein2003082020040803

High above London's West End are the desecrated remains of some of the finest examples of Edwardian public sculpture.

The figures, one of the first outdoor commissions of the giant of British sculpture Jacob Epstein, were smashed and defaced by their owners in the 1930s.

Why? Because their naked bodies were deemed "immoral".

04Henry Moore20040810

's sculpture 'Family Group' was an enlightened example of modern public art when it was unveiled in the new town of Harlow the 1950s.

But this pioneering work found itself the subject of repeated attack over thirty years and by the late 1980s it was removed to the safe haven of an exhibition space.

Joe Kerr examines why the town lost one of its most powerful icons.

0101Lenin2003081820040720

The destruction of statues is one of the most powerful symbols of conflict and change - as the world witnessed in Baghdad this year.

But such iconoclasm isn't just the fate of vainglorious foreign dictators.

Architectural historian Joe Kerr tells the story behind the deliberate removal of five monuments that once took pride of place much closer to home.Joe Kerr tells the forgotten history of Britain's homage to Lenin.

At the height of the Second World War, the British Government gave its backing to the unveiling of an official memorial to the leader of the Russian Revolution.

Six years later, after it had been defaced with fascist graffiti and caused a diplomatic incident, its sculptor tore the statue down, humiliated by its treatment.

0102Nelson2003081920040727

The first memorial to Admiral Nelson was in Dublin, not in Trafalgar Square.

"Nelson's Pillar" was erected in the Irish capital some thirty-five years before London's column and became a major landmark in the city.

But to some it remained a symbol of British imperial oppression - with destructive consequences.

010420030821

High above London's West End are the desecrated remains of some of the finest examples of Edwardian public sculpture.

The figures - one of the first outdoor commissions of the giant of British sculpture Jacob Epstein - were smashed and defaced by their owners in the 1930s.

Why? Because their naked bodies were deemed 'immoral'.

0105Wellington2003082220040817

A towering statue of Wellington, many times bigger than the man himself, once loomed over the capital.

Even patriotic Victorians were embarrassed by it.

But while the war hero still lived it was sacrosanct.

Joe Kerr traces the twists and turns of its subsequent strange fate.

A towering statue of Wellington, many times bigger than the man himself, once loomed over London.