Hidden Statuary And Carvings Of London
( Originally Published 1908 )
A few months ago when a house at the corner of Warwick Lane, E.C., was pulled down it was announced in the newspapers that the carved panel which for 250 years had marked the site of the old palace of the Earl of Warwick, the Kingmaker, would not be replaced in the new building but would be taken to the Guildhall Museum. By the good sense of the authorities this plan was not followed, but the stone was replaced at the spot where it had so long remained an interesting memorial of the past.
As the interest attaching to these small carvings is much increased by their remaining in situ, and generally entirely destroyed when, cleaned up and repainted, they become mere pieces of stone in a museum, it is sincerely to be hoped that the few historical stones yet remaining may be spared and allowed to speak to us from their original positions the message which London is too prone to forget.
The Warwick stone is a carving in low relief of the Earl of Warwick, with date and crests.
A few yards away, on what was the site of the College of Physicians, now stands the Cutlers' Hall, the frieze of which—one of the handsomest in London—is the work of George Tinworth, and represents the various branches of the cutler's calling.
Close by, at the corner of Canon's Alley, St. Paul's Churchyard, some three or four stories from the ground, is a very beautiful and well-preserved . carving of the Prince of Wales's feathers with the title, " Ich Dien," and is dated 1670. This property formerly belonged to the Dean and Chapter, but there does not appear any record as to the origin of the stone. There was an inn for many years in St. Paul's Churchyard with this sign, but it was some distance further east of this spot.
Almost opposite the end of Canon's Alley, above a stationer's shop in Paternoster Row, is a very beautiful and well-preserved bust and crest which survives from the old Aldine House which stood here.
On the north side of Paternoster Row is Panyer Alley, connecting with Newgate Street, and in the east wall of a building recently erected the old Panyer stone, one of the most interesting of carved stones, has been carefully reset. It shows a naked boy seated upon a panyer or basket with hand stretched out as though offering something for sale, and on a panel beneath are the words:
When ye have sought the City round, Yet still this is the highest ground. August 22nd, 1688.
The highest ground in the City is, however, not Panyer Alley.
Some five or six years ago when an adjoining building was being reconstructed, one of the workmen was approached by a wealthy American and offered L5 to remove the stone, cover it with a sack, and hand it out to him through the hoarding. Fortunately the scheme was discovered in time, and it was an interesting sight to notice a stalwart City policeman on duty for several days until the cement in which the stone had been reset was strong enough to withstand the efforts of any pilfering hands. A drawing appeared in The Pall Mall Budget of that date depicting the scene.
One of the best known of the old City inns, famous from the sixteenth century to the middle of the last century, was "The Swan with Two Necks " in Gresham Street. It was established in the year 1556, but with the decay of the stage coach it disappeared some fifty years ago. The old crest reproduced in the modern building, which is a railway parcel office, is one of the quaintest of these allegorical signs.
At 17A, Addle Street, - close by, is. a fine bas-relief of a bear with a collar and chain and the initials TE, date 1670. It was fortunately rebuilt into the house about 1880.
Ironmonger Lane, Cheapside, contains the last surviving carving of the arms of the Mercers' Company. This is attached to the wall of No. 6, and is a well-preserved panel showing the head and bust of a girl with flowing hair and dated 1668.
In Coleman Street, Bank, are two carvings well worthy of attention. The gateway of St. Stephen's Church is a wonderful and fantastic illustration of the Day of Judgment, and contains a very considerable number of clever and grotesque figures. Further down the street on the opposite side of the way is the hall of the Armourers' Company, a common-place frontage, but on the top of the building, quite out of reach of an ordinary City man's eye, is a very effective and beautifully-designed carving of the arms of the company—three armourers with their motto, " We are One."
In Cheapside, at No. 14, Poultry, is a modern building with some excellent terracotta panels which represent the four royal processions that have passed through Cheap-side. The dates are 1546, 1561, 1660, and 1884.
A fine statue of Gresham, perched up high on the north side of the campanile of the Royal Exchange, is too high to be properly seen from the street but is worth notice. It is copied from his statue, which was destroyed in the fire which burned down the old Exchange.
Turning westward again and walking in the direction of Smithfield we pass the new Post Office buildings, and on the eastern side forming the keystone of the main arch of the building is a colossal head of the Right Hon. Arnold Morley, Postmaster-General, when the building was constructed.
At the main entrance of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, which is one of the oldest and wealthiest in London, is an excellent statue of King Henry VIII.. who refounded the hospital after suppressing the monastery in 1547. The present statue was erected and the gate built in 1702. In the wall of the hospital is a stone giving the names of those Protestant martyrs who were burnt to death at Smithfield. Smithfield was formerly the open field where tournaments were held outside the walls of the City, and here for some hundreds of years the celebrated Bartholomew Fair was held, and Wat Tyler was killed here by Sir William Walworth, Lord Mayor of London, in the year 1381. But the most tragic memories associated with this piece of ground are those connected with the reign of Queen Mary, for here the persecuted Protestants, including Anne Askew, Rogers, Bradford, and Philpot, suffered at the stake, and under Elizabeth many nonconformists suffered the same tragic fate. The statue erected as a memorial to these martyrs stands in a little garden in the centre of the square, which is so surrounded by a constantly moving stream of huge railway vans, butchers' carts, and hand barrows as to be practically ungetatable, and the picture shown would not be recognised by many were it not for the guide furnished by the surrounding buildings. Its curious invisibility is emphasised by the fact that Mrs. E. T. Cook in her " High-ways and Byeways of London," overlooked the statue altogether, and says that the little tablet let into the wall of the hospital is the only martyr memorial.
On the west side of Giltspur Street, opposite to St. Bartholomew's, is a survival of the Fire of London, a small carved image of a naked boy put up after the fire. It is illustrated in Pennant's London, but the inscription and wings which then decorated the figure have since disappeared. It was to mark the spot at Pie Corner where the Fire of London ended.
At Ely Place, Hatton Garden, may be seen the last remains of the Bishop of Ely's palace which stood here. It is the Mitre and date 1546, now in the wall of a public-house in a small turning leading to Hatton Garden.
In Devereux Court, Essex Street, on the site of the old " Grecian Coffee-house," is a bust of the Earl of Essex and date 1676. It is, attributed to Cibber, who carved the panels at the base of the Monument.
Gibbons' statue of James II., which is a leaden one, was erected behind the Banqueting Hall in Whitehall in the year 1686 and was left undisturbed at the bloodless revolution, as noted elsewhere.
A statue not often noticed is that of William III. in St. James's Square (by Bacon) erected in the year 1698.
At the back of Burlington House is the building which for many years was the home of the London University in Burlington Gardens. It has a very effective facade decorated with many statues, two of the best being those of Locke and Bacon by Theed.
Another of Gibbons's statues is to be seen at the quadrangle of Chelsea Hospital. It is of Charles II., the founder of this institution for the benefit of old and invalid soldiers.
The sign of the Cutlers' Company, the last surviving in the City, is the Elephant and Castle, and is to be found in the wall on the right hand of La Belle Sauvage Yard, Ludgate Hill.