Papers of Charles Wheeler

Scope and Content

The main part of the archive consists of over 500 photographs of Wheeler and his work. These document a wide range of his sculpture and paintings from the 1920s onwards, including his sculpture for the Bank of England, 1928-1937; sculpture for the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques, 1937; the 'Jellicoe Memorial Fountain', Trafalgar Square, London, 1938-1939; a large number of war memorials; sketch models for sculptures; portrait sculpture; unveiling ceremonies; architectural sculpture; and Wheeler and his assistants working on sculptures in his studio. There is a set of photographs of Wheeler and others at formal events, unveilings, presentation ceremonies and dinners, many at the Royal Academy, and personal photographs of Wheeler and his family and friends. Further material includes over twenty speeches, lectures, writings, transcripts of interviews, press cuttings and a small collection of letters. There are also nine appointment diaries, 1957-1968, covering the period when Wheeler was President of the Royal Academy.

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Wheeler was born 14 March 1892 in Church Lane, Codsall, Staffordshire. He studied at Wolverhampton School of Art; Royal College of Art 1912-1917. Ill-health prevented him from serving during the Great War, instead he put his sculpting talents towards the war effort by making prostheses for amputees. Wheeler became a prominent figure in British sculpture between the wars, best-known for his architectural and monumental work in stone and bronze. He died 22 August 1974 at Woodreed Farmhouse, Mayfield, Sussex.

Commissions include: Bank of England figures and façade 1920s onwards; Jellicoe Memorial and fountain group in Trafalgar Square, London 1948; Earth and Water, Ministry of Defence building in Whitehall, London 1953; Merchant Marine Memorial, Tower Hill, London 1952; Royal Naval figures on Royal Naval war memorials at Chatham, Portsmouth and Plymouth 1952-54.

Access Information

Available to all registered researchers. The Archive is open by appointment only.

Other Finding Aids

A finding aid for this collection can be consulted in the HMI archive searchroom.

Archivist's Note

Archive Hub description was created by Janette Martin

Biographical information extracted from Sir Charles Thomas Wheeler PRA, KCVO, CBE', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [, accessed 19 Nov 2015]

Related Material

The HMI archive also holds a collection of press cuttings (2 boxes) related to the life and work of Sir Charles Wheeler 1910-c.2005. Accession: 20011.633

The HMI archive also holds a file of letters (10 items) written to Wheeler between 1961 and 1970 in relation to his position as President of the Royal Academy. They are written by Christine Foyle; Lady Laura Knight; Harold MacMillan; Lord Yehudi Menuhin and Sir Ralph Richardson. Accession 2000.1.

For other Charles Wheeler papers see the National Register of Archives


C. Wheeler, 'High Relief', Autobiography, 1968.T. Bodkin, ‘Charles Wheeler C.B.E., R.A.’, in Studio, June 1956, Vol. 151, No. 759.M. Levy, ‘Academic Humanist’, in Studio, Vol. 165, April 1963, pp. 154-159.