The City of London contains a great many statues, memorials, sculptures and monuments in commemoration of a variety of people or events. Some are very large, standing proud in the main thoroughfares, while others are tucked away in corners where they are hardly noticed. Some of the more modern additions are referred to as "street furniture". There are others, high up on the walls and roofs of buildings that people pass by everyday, not looking up, and never knowing that they are there. On this and the next few pages I have included some of the City statuary with as much history as I could find about them without being too boring (I hope). I will try to add to this list as I hear about new installations and 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.As well as the permanent monuments the City Corporation occasionally erects a trail of temporary artwork spread around the City for a few months. As I am updating the web site in 2022 after the Covid-19 lock down of 2020, certain groups have decided that certain statues all over the country should be removed so as to delete history. I cannot yet say whether this will include any of the City sculptures.
Gilt Bronze 3 metre high sculpture by Sir Charles Wheeler. It depicts Shakespeare’s Ariel, the spirit of the air, from his play ‘The Tempest’. This golden statue stands atop the rear of the Bank of England, above Tivoli Corner looking across Princes Street. She represents the spirit of the Bank with it’s dealings being transmitted to all parts of the globe.
These six life size figures are a 20th. century addition entitled ‘Rush Hour’ sculpted by George Segal. You can see them standing outside number 1 Finsbury Avenue between Liverpool Street station and Moorgate on the Broadgate complex. I am not sure of the date it was unveiled but it is dated 1983-87.
The Broad Family
These abstract figuresby 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. Although they look like bronze they are apparently cast concrete with a black coating.
Erected in 1878, this statue was originally a drinking fountain. it's at the rear of the Royal Exchange and represents 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. This may have been air raid damage.
At the rear of the Royal Exchange, facing the traffic passing in Threadneedle Street there sits a 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 American artist was W. W. Story. Unveiled in 1869 by the Prince of Wales.
Paul Julius Reuter
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! Sculpted in granite by Michael Black.
This stone canopy in Exchange Buildings, at the rear of the Royal Exchange, is similar to the one missing from the ‘Motherhood’ piece, only this time the statue is missing, not the canopy. It was, at one time, a bronze figure of a nude 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 had 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 was removed years ago for some reason.
Sir Thomas Gresham
High up, near 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. He built it after watching traders do their business in all weathers in the streets.This man was Sir Thomas Gresham. His statue is so high up that unless you look at the clock for the time, you would never notice it. The sculpture by William Behnes was unveiled in 1845. There is also Gresham’s crest, a gilded grasshopper, on top of the weather vane above.
The Grasshopper was the Gresham family's crest. There are a few around 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. For a closer look you could walk around the corner to Lombard Street to see one lower and closer.There are more scattered around. You must keep your eyes open when walking the City.
Hugh Myddleton and
If you stand in Threadneedle Street with your back to the Bank of England, you will see 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.
The Duke of Wellington
A large bronze figure on horseback mounted on a granite pedestal. It is the Duke of Wellington and is situated in front of the Royal Exchange at the meeting point of Cornhill and Threadneedle Street opposite the Bank of England. Cast from the guns Wellington himself captured from the French. The sculpture was not erected to honour his wartime efforts but in recognition of the help he gave the City Corporation in getting a bill passed to allow the rebuilding of London Bridge and King William Street. There are no saddle or stirrups on the horse, and no boots on the Duke. This was intentional. Victorious Roman generals rode like this after a conquest. It was sculptured by Francis Chantrey and erected in 1844.
London War Memorial
Situated at the entrance to the Royal Exchange, the memorial honours members of the London Regiments who died in World War One. Designed by Aston Webb and sculpted by Alfred Drury, it’s stone column flanked by two life sized bronze soldiers. On top is a lion, and a shield showing Saint George and the dragon. The list of London battalions is inscribed upon it but sadly, does not mention the Kings Royal Rifle Corps and Rifle Brigade, who recruited mainly from London. Of the fifty two battalions of the Royal Fusiliers involved, it only lists four. It was erected in 1920.There is a remembrance service held here every year on Remembrance SundaySee Ceremonies page >>
Euro Arab Bank
A lady once asked meif I knew who this statue represents. High up on a conical roof of the Euro Arab Bank. A female figure holding a snake in her right hand and a skull in the left. I could find no mention of it anywhere. I even enquired at the bank and a lady delved into the deeds. In 2020, after 15 years, I found the answer! The building was originally occupied by an assurance company and this was their coat of arms. Here is an excerpt from The Book of Public Arms: "METROPOLITAN LIFE ASSURANCE SOCIETY (London). (Established 1835.) Or, on a mount vert, a female figure proper, vested argent, mantle azure, the right arm extended and entwined by a serpent, holding in the left hand a human skull, both also proper…Motto — "True faith, true policy."[Granted, College of Arms, August 18, 1885.]".I wish I could let that lady know now!