Starting in 2014, the Portrait of Britain Collection is intended to be an annual series of coin sets that portray popular and recognisable landmarks, buildings and natural phenomena from all over the United Kingdom. The idea is that each set is linked by a common theme, and that over time those themed sets will combine to build what the collection promises; a complete ‘Portrait of Britain’.
For this first Portrait of Britain set, the common theme is the recognisable landmarks and buildings of London. We’ve pulled together just three facts about each one for you, to set the scene. There are, of course, many more we will talk about in future articles, so stay with us!
- The centrepiece of Trafalgar Square is Nelson’s Column, built to honour Admiral Horatio Nelson, who led the British to victory at the Battle of Trafalgar
- A Norwegian Spruce Christmas tree is placed in the centre of Trafalgar Square every year as a gift from Norway in honour of Britain’s commitment to Norway during World War II
- Trafalgar Square is owned by HM The Queen as part of the Crown Estate and is managed by the Greater London Authority
- Big Ben was cast on 10th April 1858, so is 156 years old
- The bell weighs about 13 ½ tons – similar to that of a small elephant!
- It’s said that the bell was going to be named Victoria after Queen Victoria, but Londoners started calling it ‘Big Ben’ and the name stuck
- Tower Bridge was designed by Sir Horace Jones and built between 1886 and 1894
- River traffic takes priority over bridge users and 24 hours’ notice is needed for the bascules to be raised to allow a ship to pass – they are raised more than 1,000 times a year
- Many people think that Tower Bridge is called London Bridge, but in fact they are two different crossings
- Buckingham Palace has been the British monarch’s official London residence since 1837 – Queen Victoria was the first British monarch to live there
- The building was built in 1705 as a private house for the Duke of Buckingham and was originally called Buckingham House
- The Union Flag is flown over Buckingham Palace when the Queen is NOT in residence – the opposite of what many people think. A Flag Sergeant has the role of raising and lowering the flag as Her Majesty arrives at or departs from the Palace
We’d like to know what you would add to The Portrait of Britain – what are your ideas for the next coin designs in this series from The Royal Mint? Think landmarks, natural phenomena, animals, buildings….