The memorial sculpture at the centre of King's has been met with criticismMartha Shawyer for Varsity

King’s College has unveiled a memorial sculpture honouring the mathematician Alan Turing, despite criticism from Historic England.

The sculpture, designed by Angel of the North sculptor Sir Antony Gormley, was granted planning permission in August 2022 and was met with a mixed response from students and members of the public.

The design had earlier been criticised by Historic England, who feared that the sculpture would “be at odds with the existing character of the College” and “detract from the architectural landscape and the aesthetic significance of the college”.

These concerns have been shared by students, with one taking to Camfess to comment on its “ugly” design. Some observers have been more positive about the statue, with one visitor describing it as a “triumph” on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Speaking to Varsity, one King’s student praised the sculpture, stating: “It’s an excellent way to recognise Turing and his legacy as one of the most important King’s alumni.”

“I don’t think it’s ugly at all, the abstract design better represents the complexities of Turing’s character and his contribution to the college. People who are complaining about it are just narrow-minded”, they concluded.

The placement of the sculpture has also been criticised for being inaccessible to the public, with those without Cambridge resident cards being charged £10 entry to the College to see the memorial and will only be allowed to visit it at certain times.


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Councillor Dave Bagient echoed these criticisms stating how he wanted “to be able to see this statue, not have it hidden away”. Cllr Bagient extended his concern that the sculpture would be “dwarfed” by the surrounding buildings, as Mr Turing was “dwarfed by our society.”

The college has defended the placement of the sculpture, with a representative stating: “Other more recently proposed sites were for the sculptor, either too picturesque and romanticising, by the river, or too isolating and monumentalising, on King’s Parade.”

Alan Turing, widely considered the ‘father of computing’, read mathematics at King’s from 1931-1934 before becoming a fellow of the College the following year.