Designed by famed architect Sir Herbert Baker, the memorial is situated at Rhodes’s favourite spot on the lower slopes of Devil’s Peak – in fact, Rhodes’s own wooden bench is still situated below the memorial (which makes sense considering that he own most of the land making up the lower slopes of Table Mountain!). The site faces north-east, which one can easily imagine as marking the start of the Cape to Cairo road, Rhodes’s championed imperial dream of a British colonial Africa.
Built mostly of Cape granite quarried on Table Mountain, the memorial consists of a massive staircase with 49 steps (one for each year of Rhodes’s life) leading from a semi-circular terrace up to a rectangular U-shaped monument formed of pillars.
At the bottom of the steps is a bronze statue of a horseman, Physical Energy by George Frederic Watts. Eight bronze lions by John Macallan Swan flank the steps leading up to the memorial, with a bust of Rhodes completing the installation.
The inscription on the monument is “To the spirit and life work of Cecil John Rhodes who loved and served South Africa”. Also inscribed, below the bust of Rhodes, are the last four lines of the last stanza from the 1902 poem Burial by Rudyard Kipling in honour of Rhodes:
The immense and brooding spirit still
Shall quicken and control.
Living he was the land, and dead,
His soul shall be her soul!
Today the memorial is part of the Table Mountain National Park. It sports a well-known tea room, making it a popular viewpoint and picnicking spot. It also marks the starting point for a number of walks and hikes on Devil’s Peak.
Related Link: Rhodes Memorial