The Foreign Secretary has today re-dedicated the memorial to Britain’s longest ever serving Foreign Secretary, Viscount Edward Grey.
The memorial plaque was recently restored by English Heritage as part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s programme to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.
For almost 80 years the distinguished profile of Viscount Grey, or Sir Edward Grey as he is better known, has looked on as visitors have made their way in and out of the ‘Ambassador’s Entrance’ of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Sir Edward Grey was in office from 1905 to 1916. He is chiefly remembered for being Foreign Secretary when Britain entered the First World War in 1914 and for his famous words on the eve of the war: ‘The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our life-time.’
Created Viscount Grey of Fallodon in 1916, he died on 7 September 1933. Soon after his death a committee was formed to devise a fitting tribute to keep alive his memory as a statesman and public figure.
On Tuesday 27 April 1937 the memorial was unveiled by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin in front of a distinguished company of friends and admirers of Viscount Grey. Over 1,000 people had subscribed to the fund, raising over £4,000 for the memorial and other commemorative projects.
The plaque consisted of a classical portrait of Grey, in relief, surrounded by a circular inscription: ‘Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, MCMV—MCMXVI’. Carved in the wall below the plaque, after Grey’s name and dates, was the following tribute: ‘By uprightness of character, wisdom in council and firmness in action, he won the confidence of his countrymen, and helped to carry them through many and great dangers’.
But decades of weathering eventually took their toll. Until recently it was in a poor state of repair, with parts of the inscription hardly legible.
Today Philip Hammond re-dedicated the memorial plaque to Viscount Grey of Fallodon in the presence of his descendants and other guests from English Heritage, the Imperial War Museum and The Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Speaking at the re-dedication, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said:
I am extremely grateful to English Heritage for their excellent work restoring this memorial to its former glory.
It is particularly fitting that this restoration has been completed during the Centenary of the First World War, the event with which Viscount Grey, fairly or otherwise given his many achievements and years of service, will always be most closely associated.
I re-dedicate this memorial to the memory of my illustrious predecessor with thanks and in admiration of a lifetime of distinguished public service.