At last. I hope you have already got it. Love from Jeannie

The Victoria Memorial, Carlisle Public Park
Unknown publisher

To: Edith J. Nanson, Cumberland House, Shelford Street, Scunthorpe, Doncaster
Postmark: CARLISLE 5 | 8pm | 7 September 1903

Today (24 May 2019) marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria, which I’m marking with a postcard from the early 1900s showing the Victoria Memorial. Carlisle’s connection with Victoria is slim; like most towns and cities across the UK her name is immortalised in buildings, streets and parks – Victoria Viaduct, Victoria Place, Victoria Park – but the queen only visited the city on one occasion.

In 1853 the Station Hotel was built, with a suite of rooms designated specifically for Queen Victoria to stay whilst on her way to Balmoral. The hotel and Royal apartments were designed by Anthony Salvin, an eminent architect whose work included Windsor Castle at the behest of Prince Albert. Queen Victoria did indeed pay a visit to the suite in 1853 on her way north; she didn’t stay, however, after inspecting the rooms she moved on and it is believed this is her only visit to Carlisle.

She is permanently remembered with this, the Victoria Monument, which stands tall in Victoria Park, a subsidiary of the much larger Bitts Park area. A persistent rumour which I have heard repeated many times since childhood is that the positioning of the statue, with Victoria’s back to the city and/or the castle, represents her feelings for the city – not complimentary. Where this story comes from is a mystery, but I have found no evidence of it; it would be difficult for her to make stipulations about the orientation of a memorial, designed and installed after her death. Sculptor Thomas Brock was commissioned to design the piece which includes four panels around the base depicting symbols of the Empire: Science and Art, Empire, Education and Commerce. The inscription reads:

Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Empress of India, Born May 24th 1819, Died January 22nd 1901. A great Queen, A good Woman, A friend alike to rich and poor, who for Sixty Three Years Reigned over a prosperous and World wide Empire.

This statue is erected by the citizens of Carlisle in admiration of her noble life and character.

Brock had form with Victoria, having produced a number of statues of the queen between 1893 and her death in 1901. His most famous work is probably that of the huge memorial to Victoria which stands outside Buckingham Palace in London.

The memorial in Carlisle was unveiled on 7 May 1902, just over a year after the queen’s death at age 81. This postcard was sent the following year, with no mention of the former monarch. As an indicator of the popularity of postcard collecting at the start of the last century the sender’s only purpose is to add another to the recipient’s collection; no greetings are included. This was around the time that divided back cards were becoming acceptable to the Royal Mail, however, this card has the more ‘traditional’ (for the time) undivided back with space for a short message on the front and address only on the reverse.