Bust: Drill Hall - head 5 - African/Indian soldier
Erection date: 1882
Site: Drill Hall - W1 (7 memorials)
W1, Chenies Street, Drill Hall
In the spandrels above the entrance door: "Bloomsbury Rifles Pro Patria Semper" ('for my country always'). The technique used for this lettering is new to us, and has weathered, or aged, very badly.
The ends of the label, or drip, window mouldings are decoratively finished with individual sculpted heads. The six on the first floor are small and not too interesting but the six on the ground floor are so delightful we could not let them go, even though their status as memorials is, at best, tangential. We've numbered them left to right and identified a character for each one, except number 4. Do look at them in the larger format - the facial expressions are individual and the moustaches long.
Discussing head 4 with Mike Patterson of London Historians he points out that, in common with other infantry regiments, the Bloomsbury Rifles cap badge incorporated the Maltese cross so that would explain the symbol on the cap. He agrees that, as with 1 and 2, 4 has a local British look but we can't pin it down. Welsh would be an obvious candidate but we can find no images to confirm this association. Of course it could just be bog standard English.
See the foundation stone page for information about the building and its architect. It remained in use by military groups until 1960. It is now RADA Studios.
Londonist have posted a Museum of London video about this drill hall.
The Jewish Legion HQ was at 22 Chenies Street - two buildings to the east.