A centuries-old Grade II listed statue has been temporarily taken away from its park setting to allow it to be restored.

The 11-foot bronze 'Peace' statue, which dates back to 1861, stands on top of 200 tonnes of Devon granite at Friary Park in Friern Barnet.

First installed in the park in 1911, it was donated by wealthy benefactor Sydney Simmons, who paid for the purchase of the Friary Estate, on the condition that it forever remain a public park.

This month, Barnet Council has taken away the statue to allow maintenance to be carried out on it.

Councillor Stephen Sowerby, Barnet Council’s design and heritage champion, said: "I am proud to have secured funding to make this restoration possible. We are committed to a programme of maintenance of all our statutory listed monuments – including war memorials and sites such as this.

"This statue is an important part of our history. We want everyone to be able to enjoy it in its original state. What’s really interesting about this statue is that it stood in our little suburban park for more than a century without anyone realising it was of Queen Victoria.

"I would like to thank the Friern Barnet & District Local History Society for discovering its true origins. I can’t wait to see what it originally looked like."

The statue originally held a rod of equity and mercy – on which a dove, symbolising peace, perched.

Since then, the rod has been replaced with a spear, which is now broken. It is thought that the spear represents 'armed peace'.

The council’s restoration work will see the statue restored to include the installation of the dove, subject to planning permission.

The restoration is set to take around two months with the statue then to be returned to its home in Friary Park.