Memorial to the Great Exhibition
In 1851 an exhibition of culture and industry took place in London, and was known as the 'Great Exhibition', though is sometimes referred to as the 'Crystal Palace Exhibition. This exhibition ran for six months, from May 1st to October 11th, and drew in a whopping 6million visitors during that time - that's a third of the entire country's population, each of whom paid a shilling to enter! To commemorate this huge success, it was decided that a memorial should be erected in Hyde Park, however permission to build on this location was denied, and so the site of the memorial was moved to the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens instead.
A competition to design the memorial was announced in July 1857, which gave both national and international architects and sculptors the chance to design a suitable memorial that would cost £6,000 or less to create. 27 entries were received, the winning one being by Englishman Joseph Durham, which was later modified by Sydney Smirke.
Many different options were discussed as to what statue would be placed atop the memorial - Britannia (the female representation of Britain) was considered, as was a statue of Prince Albert. However, Albert was too embarrassed by this, and so it wasn't until well after his death in 1851, that the memorial, with a statue of Albert sat atop it, was erected in the RHS Gardens in 1863. In the early 1890's the memorial was moved from this position, and now stands behind the Royal Albert Hall.