66th Regiment Girishk Maiwand and Kandahar

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Reference WMO/187164


Forbury Gardens

Forbury Road




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Status: On original site
Type: Freestanding
Location: External
Setting: Within a garden/park/churchyard/enclosure/Marketplace
Description: Animal Figure
Lettering: Inscribed on a plaque
About the memorial: Large lion on rectangular stone pedestal carrying inscription panels. The original panels in terracotta did not weather well and at the base of the sculpture was covered in Portland Stone and new panels in Bronze were affixed. The original terracotta panels were apparently simply walled in. Dan Allen of the Victorian Military Society says that Regiments were given random county names and that the memorial was erected as a deliberate attempt to link the Regiment to the county and to improve respect for the Army. It is the oldest Regimental Memorial in the country. Of the 11 Officers and 315 other ranks listed only 48 were from Berkshire and only 6 were from Reading. None of the Officers were Berkshire men. The sculptor was George Simonds (later George Blackall Simonds) a member of the Reading Brewing and Banking Family. He also sculpted the statue of Queen Victoria outside Reading's Town Hall. An unfortunate myth attaches to this splendid cast iron piece; people believe that no real lion could stand in the pose depicted, and that when Simonds realised this he committed suicide. He had studied leonine anatomy at London Zoo (so knew what he was doing) and lived for another 40 years before dying peacefully. The lion is often used as a symbol of Reading. People occasionally ask if the Lion has a tongue. When the sculpture was refurbished, in Invisible Green, as part of the Forbury Gardens restoration the local press took a photo of the lion's tongue. There is a trapdoor in the stomach of the lion which enabled the makers of the sculpture to fix the parts together.
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This monument records the names and commemorates the valour of XI officers and CCCXVIII non-commissioned officers and men of the LXVI Berkshire Regiment who gave their lives for their country at Girishk, Maiwand and Kandahar, and during the Afghan Campaign 1879-1880 'History does not afford any grander or finer instance of gallantry and devotion to Queen and Country than that displayed by the LXVI Regiment at the Battle of Maiwand, on the 27th. July 1880'-Despatch of General Primrose./ Erected in 1884 by residents in Berkshire and by the comrades and friends of those whose names are here recorded

Grade II (England)


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Reading Borough Council