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The City of London contains a great many statues, memorials, sculptures and monuments in commemoration of a variety of people and events. Some are very large, standing proud in the main thoroughfares, while others are tucked away on corners where they are hardly noticed. Some of the more recent additions are referred to as "street furniture". There are others, high up on the walls and roofs of buildings that people pass by everyday and never know they are there.
Below, and on the next few pages, are listed some of the City statues with as much history as I could find about them. I will try to add to this list as time permits. There are also now, many modern, and abstract sculptures in the square mile, which I have grouped together with the historic ones. I hope you will forgive me for this. Statuary photo gallery >>
Shakespeare’s Ariel. The spirit of the air from ‘The Tempest’. This golden statue stands atop the Bank of England, over Tivoli Corner looking down Princes Street. She represents the spirit of the Bank with it’s dealings being transmitted to all parts of the globe.
These life size figures are a fairly modern addition entitled ‘Rush Hour’ sculpted by George Segal. You can see them standing outside number 1 Finsbury Avenue between Liverpool Street and Moorgate on the Broadgate complex. I am not sure of the date it was unveiled.
Erected in 1878, this statue was originally a drinking fountain at the rear of the Royal Exchange representing motherhood. It shows a woman breast feeding a child, with another seeking attention at her knee. Jules Dalou was the sculptor. It was originally housed in a stone canopy similar to “Serenity” in the close vicinity, which lost it’s sculpture (see below left). This may have been air raid damage.
These abstract objects by Xavier Corbero can be seen in front of a breeze block screen at Exchange Square, between Liverpool Street and Moorgate. I took the photograph thinking they were just rocks, but if you look carefully, it becomes clear what the rocks represent. They are a family group consisting of two adults, a child with a ball, and a dog. A pair of child’s shoes are also hidden there.
Another statue that can be found behind the Royal Exchange. This is where Paul Julius Reuter founded his now world famous Reuters news service at, No. 1 Exchange Buildings. In 1851 he started with a fleet of 45 Pigeons carrying the latest share prices and news between Brussels and Germany. They could beat the fastest train time by six hours!
At the rear of the Royal Exchange, facing the traffic passing in Threadneedle Street there sits a bald man in an armchair on a granite support. This is George Peabody (1795 - 1869), an American philanthropist. He donated over half a million pounds to build housing for the poorer people of London. The Peabody trust is still in existence. The artist was W. W. Story, also an American. Statue was unveiled 1871.
This stone canopy in Exchange buildings behind the Royal Exchange is similar to the one missing from the above ‘Motherhood’ piece, only this time the statue is missing. It was a nude bronze figure of a girl pouring water from a pitcher, sculpted by J. Whitehead. It was erected in 1911 to commemorate the Jubilee of the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association. It has four basins, and was supplied by an underground spring. The original girl was removed in 1989 and replaced in 1993 by a modern sculpture by Stephen Robert Melton called Serenity, but this too has now been removed for some reason.
The Grasshopper is the Gresham’s family crest. There are a few in the City and this one is on the weather vane affixed to the top of the tower where his statue stands. Unfortunately at the present time, there is only one spot that enables a photo to be taken from and the wind has to be in the right direction. As it was a dull cloudy day when the vane faced the right way, it’s gold colour does not show in the photo. I will try to do better next time!
At the top of the Victorian built Royal Exchange there is a statue of the man who founded, and built the original exchange at his own expense, in 1564 (not the present building). This was Sir Thomas Gresham. It is so high up that unless you look at the clock for the time, you would never notice it. The statue by William Behnes was unveiled in 1845. There is also Gresham’s crest, a gilded grasshopper which is the weather vane above.
If you stand in Threadneedle Street with your back to the Bank of England, between the bus stop and the Royal Bank of Scotland, you will notice two separate figures above the row of shops along the side wall of the Royal Exchange. Erected in 1844/5 they look to be larger than life-size, but are easily missed by people in the street below. They are so high up that they go mainly unnoticed by passers by. They are four times Lord Mayor of London, Richard Whittington sculptured by J. E. Carew, and the man who gave the City its water supply when the original sources were too polluted to be of use, Sir Hugh Myddleton sculptured by Samuel Joseph.
There are many more photos in the Full photo gallery >>
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