Fireplace, India Office

Britannia receiving the riches of the East Indies by Michael Rysbrack. 1730. Council Chamber Fireplace, India Office, Whitehall, London. Photograph and text 2006 by Jacqueline Banerjee [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL.].

Although this India Office fireplace is not Victorian, it shows so well the attitudes which the Victorians took over from the East India Company. The very fact that it was preserved and installed in this lofty, richly gilded and most important of council chambers, where many momentous decisions were reached about India, speaks volumes:

The chimneypiece and overmantel were commissioned [for the old East India House] from the Flemish sculptor Michael Rysbrack and date from 1730. The centre panel represents Britannia, seated by the sea, receiving the riches of the East Indies. Behind stand two female figures symbolising Asia and Africa, the former leading a camel, the latter a lion. On the right, a river god represents the Thames, while in the background ships are going off to sea. [6]



The Foreign and Commonwealth Office: History, supplied by the Office on London's Open Day, 17 September 2006.

Colonial and India Office Victorian London Architecture

Last modified 25 October 2006