To honour the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, bespoke bronze sculptures and lanterns were commissioned by the Houses of Parliament and entirely funded by personal donations. Learn how artist Tim Crawley, with the help of William Sugg & Co. Ltd and Morris Singer Foundry, achieved practicality and beauty in this stunning tribute that celebrates all four countries of the United Kingdom.

The customer

When it comes to commemorating an historic occasion as significant as the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, no ordinary gift will suffice.  That’s why the Houses of Parliament commissioned a bespoke piece to honour Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, which was no small feat.

The task of coordinating this monumental project fell to none other than Rt Hon Michael Ellis QC MP.  From conception to completion, he was responsible to oversee every step of the way, ensuring that the end result would be a fitting tribute to the long and illustrious reign of one of Britain’s most beloved monarchs.

The challenge

Creating a fitting tribute to someone as revered as Queen Elizabeth II is no easy feat, especially when the goal is to commemorate such a momentous occasion as her Platinum Jubilee.  The Houses of Parliament understood that this project would require exceptional attention to detail and sensitivity to its surroundings, as it would be placed in the heart of New Palace Yard. 

The piece needed to complement the grandeur of previous installations in the area, such as the breathtaking stained glass window in Westminster Hall (celebrating the Diamond Jubilee), and the Silver Jubilee fountain in New Palace Yard.

To achieve the required visual impact and quality of the final piece, the project required the combined expertise of a team of highly skilled artisans.  This team consisted of artist Tim Crawley, Morris Singer Art Foundry, and William Sugg & Co. Ltd.  The team was determined to create a unique and befitting tribute that would honor the late Queen and delight all who set eyes on it.

As heritage lighting experts with a long history of working with the royal household through the generations, our responsibility was to manufacture the crown-shaped lanterns that form a key feature of the final design bringing it to life during hours of darkness.

 “Lighting continues to play an important and much-loved role in London’s history. William Sugg has had a close relationship with the Parliamentary Estate and the Royal Household for over 150 years. They first installed ‘Globe’ gas lamps on the main gates of the Houses of Parliament and around Parliament Square in about 1870 and the lamps on Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle were ordered in 1901. The crown motif has been incorporated into lighting on numerous occasions by Sugg for Royal premises.”

Christopher Sugg – descendant of William Sugg.

The solution/product

Artist Tim Crawley drew inspiration from the intricate architecture and heraldic art found within the Palace of Westminster, examining the stone carvings and masonry in the immediate area to gain insight into their style and character. Crawley set about designing two unique bronze sculptures that would complement the surrounding structures and area. His goal was to create pieces that were not only beautiful in their own right but also sympathetic to their environment, an endeavour that required an exceptional level of craftsmanship and attention to detail.

The sculptures are not only beautiful; they are also practical. Situated in a busy area of the Parliamentary Estate, they serve a dual purpose of illuminating both the throughfare and the medieval Westminster Hall.  The bespoke piece can be considered a work of art that is not only beautiful and in harmony with its environment but also represents all four countries of the United Kingdom. 

The lanterns, which reflect the shape of St Edward’s Crown, add an element of regal elegance to the piece while also providing much-needed light to the area.  The bronze crowns, which measure approximately 1.1 metres high and 0.8 metres in diameter, were handmade in Sugg’s workshops and took several months to make.

“We were delighted to have been involved in this prestigious commission to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee. The design was an initial concept from Tim Crawley, honed to the final design after many hours of collaboration between Tim and William Sugg. While we remain deeply saddened that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was not able to unveil these incredible gifts herself, we are thrilled that His Majesty King Charles III has now officially revealed these to the public. They are a true celebration of this magnificent landmark of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, and we are privileged to have been involved in such a project.”

Lucy Bubb, Managing Director, William Sugg & Co. Ltd

The results

Overall, the bespoke piece delivered on its challenge by seamlessly integrating beauty, practicality, and history into a singular work of art.  The bronze sculptures included the iconic Lion of England, the Unicorn of Scotland, the Dragon of Wales, and the Irish Elk of Northern Ireland creating a stunning work of art that pays homage to the diversity and history of the United Kingdom.

“The King loved it, he said they looked really beautiful and he asked about the Welsh dragon.

“He was very pleased the button worked.”

Rt Hon Michael Ellis QC MP

https://youtu.be/f5TRVPzwjI8

The creation of the bespoke piece was made possible through the generosity of personal donations from members of both Houses of Parliament and from a broad range of political affiliations. Notably, the entire cost of this project has been covered by these contributions, and no expense has been incurred by the taxpayer.

This means that the completed artwork is accessible to members of the public, who can view it from the free-to-access areas of the Palace of Westminster. This generous funding approach has ensured that the artwork can be enjoyed by all who visit this historic site, without any financial burden to the public.  As noted on Moris Singer’s website, “…the installation of the lamps follows a tradition of marking the reign of a monarch in such a way. Five lamps erected to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond and Golden Jubilees can be seen around the country and are now listed structures.”

The extraordinary gift, was finally unveiled by none other than H.M King Charles III in New Palace Yard in December 2022.

For more information on designing and manufacturing bespoke projects such as this, speak to one of William Sugg’s experts today.