La Deliverance

The unveiling was performed on October 20, 1927 by Britain's Prime Minister during the latter part of the First World War, Lloyd George, and the occasion was described in the local newspaper as the most brilliant in Finchley for many years.

More than 8,000 people from all over London attended. All the Finchley councillors and nearly all their officials were in the audience, as were the local MP and representatives of Middlesex County.

The bronze statue was the work of France's most eminent sculptor of the time, Emile Guillaume. It was inspired by what were seen as Allied victories at the two battles of the Marne. The statue was originally exhibited in Paris in 1920, where it was bought by the English newspaper proprietor Lord Rothermere, who donated it to the Finchley Urban District.

Rothermere was insistent in his address to the crowd that the statue was in no sense a war memorial, but Lloyd George's view was that it was a symbol of victory in a war that had 'delivered us from a great military despotism'.

It is a curious fact that nowhere in its long report of the ceremony does the newspaper describe the nature of the statue itself. Neither did any of the speakers. Nudity is never mentioned. There are only references such as 'this triumphant figure' or 'this masterpiece of art'.

Nevertheless, the event caused a frisson of excitement among the population because, as the local newspaper reported, 'people came in thousands from all parts of London, but they found that all the best places had been secured by Finchley and Golders Green residents, some of whom had arrived more than three hours before the proceedings were timed to commence'.