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Admiralty Arch

The Admiralty Arch, which takes its name from the nearby Royal Navy Headquarters, was designed by Sir Aston Webb, a noted English architect who is also credited with working on such landmarks as Buckingham Palace and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The structure was completed around 1911, after King Edward VII had passed away.

The Admiralty Arch was part of a masterplan created by Aston Webb to turn the Mall into a stately royal boulevard. The arch was a majestic barrier between the crowded Trafalgar Square and the more distinguished area around the royal palace.

The Arch's Design

The design includes five arches faced with Portland stone. The center arch can accommodate auto or hose traffic but is only used for ceremonial occasions. The large arches on either side of the central arch are used for automobiles and the two smaller arches next to those are for pedestrian traffic.

Walking through the arch from the Trafalgar Square side towards the Mall provides sightseers with excellent views of Buckingham Palace.

A Latin inscription on one side of the arch pays tribute to the famous queen: "In the tenth year of the reign of King Edward VII, to Queen Victoria from a grateful nation, 1910", it says.

Continuing with its nautical theme, visitors will find a statue of Captain James Cook just outside the arch. Cook was an eighteenth century cartographer, explorer, and navigator who made a number of expeditions to the Pacific Ocean and made contact with Australia, New Zealand, and the Hawaiian Islands.

The original use of the Admiralty Arch was as the offices and residences for the Sea Lords, leaders of the Royal Navy. It was also used as a hostel for the homeless. Today, however, it is home to several British government offices.

The 'Nose'

The Admiralty Arch is also well-known by locals for its "nose". The cement nose-shaped protrusion can be found in the arch to the left of the central arch (when facing Trafalgar Square) and is about 7 feet (2 meter) off the ground. It is the size of a human nose and legends differ as to the reason for its presence. Some say it is in homage to Edward VII, who had a rather large nose. Other stories state that it is Napoleon's nose and that, in the early 20th century, it would be rubbed by anyone riding through the arch on their horse as a snub to the general, who was small in stature.