The crazy forgotten plan to build a Roman Colosseum in Trafalgar Square

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London is full of ambitious and sometimes totally crazy ideas for building projects that sometimes get completed and sometimes not.

Some things do come to fruition and we often end up saying how amazing they are – the Shard for example or the Millennium Dome all had their reviews back then but turned out to be a success.

But a lot of the slightly crazier, more eccentric shots never left the drawing board – and probably for good reason.

One of the most ambitious of them was to build a huge Roman Colosseum just above Trafalgar Square.

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I mean we know the builders of the 18th and 19th centuries had great ambitions for London to reflect the glory of the British Empire as Rome had shown the might and glory of the Roman Empire – but maybe it was fine. a little too far.



John Goldicutt’s astonishing drawing for the design of the Coliseum in Trafalgar Square

In 1832, architect John Goldicutt proposed his grand plan for a huge Roman Colosseum to occupy Trafalgar Square.

According to the Dictionary of National Biography, born in 1793, Goldicutt was the son of a banker. He would follow in his father’s footsteps but wanted to draw and instead joined an architectural firm and also studied at the Royal Academy.

He gained a reputation for his incredibly detailed building designs and twice competed for the Royal Academy Silver Medal – in 1813 by sending in designs and measurements of the India House facade, and in 1814 from the Mansion House.



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Like many wealthy men of the time, in 1817, he went to Rome where he designed Saint Peter’s Basilica and would have found much inspiration there. He also traveled extensively in Italy drawing in Pompeii and many other Roman sites.

He made amazing drawings of many ancient temples and buildings and published beautiful books based on his studies which are a wonder to behold.

But he was known more for his amazing architectural designs than for his actual constructions.

Such was to be the case with its Colosseum.

It would have been home not to gladiators – but to the many learned societies that now occupy Somerset House and Burlington House, such as the Royal Geographic Society.

But the dream never came true and Goldicutt died in 1842, aged just 49, and was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery. He leaves a widow and five sons.

Trafalgar Square, as we know it now, saw an alternative design. In 1838 Sir Charles Barry presented a different plan to develop it, including the Nelson Memorial Statue and the two fountains we know and love today.

Did you know about this plan for Trafalgar Square? Let us know in the comments below.

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