Date: 28/11/2020
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52 standing stones for the modern age

The teenager and I were in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens this week and took the opportunity to visit the memorial to the 52 innocent people murdered in London on 7th July 2005 which was unveiled on the anniversary 2 weeks ago.

I blogged about the news reports at the time. The memorial is 52 columns, grouped according to the number who died at every site. They are made individually of British steel and called stelae from the Greek.
Some descriptions sounded a bit bleak, 52 upended girders arranged in a mathematical pattern. The bereaved families were involved at every stage, including visiting the steel works where each column was cast, and they all spoke of how comforting the design which I thought boded well.
One relative said “I like the way the rods of steel come up from the ground. They have a feeling of strength about them.” And he is right.
The memorial is even better than I expected. The weeping angels and stern women representing virtue beloved of the late 19th and early 20th century are not our 21st century taste.

The teenager saw it first through the trees, grey columns seen through brown tree trunks.

As we got closer my first impression was of the war graves of Northern France and Belgium, serried ranks of white, going on and on, each one a life.

But once I walked in between the columns they became a far older piece of our history.

The standing stones.

Not Stonehenge, which is a thing apart but something like the monolith at Rudstone or the Hurlers on Bodmin Moor, which were said to be boys turned to stone for playing hurley on the Sabbath.
As you move around you can see that each column is individual, with a surface texture almost like woven silk. They cast shadows across the grass and across each other, and then the light catches the metal very subtly.
I hope I have caught some of this in the photos. The children belonged to another family. They were not treating the memorial as a playground but as a place where they were welcome and their presence emphasised the continuance of life.