Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Gargoyles & Mice

We decided to keep it simple this time.  Dick Whittington's cat last week was so awesome we couldn't attempt to top it, we would've only been disappointed.  So this week we headed to Cornhill to take in a few of the sights.  Our first port of call was the Cornhill Gargoyles, but on the way we passed a rather interesting sculpture outside St. Michael's Church (St. Michael's being a medieval parish church with a pre-Norman Conquest parochial foundation. The medieval structure was lost in the Great Fire of London and the current church was designed by Sir Christopher Wren between 1670-1677).  The sculpture itself is a bronze angel by Captain Richard Reginald Goulden (a WWI memorial).  The church frontage is very detailed, with many raised faces above the doorway (see pic).




From St. Michael's we proceeded eastward along Cornhill and five minutes later, came across the Gargoyles in all their glory!  For you to be as excited as we were at finding these, you need to know the story... In the nineteenth century a very observant vicar at St. Peter's Church noticed that plans for building a new structure next door intruded by one foot onto church territory. He raised legal objections and forced the architect to redraw the plans. In gleeful triumph, the architect added three terracotta gargoyles to the building facing Cornhill from the south. They were reputedly to mock those locals who supported the ill-fated plans. One of the gargoyles spits, another sticks its fingers up (although we couldn't see any fingers sticking up anywhere), and all of them cast grotesque greetings down onto parishioners entering the church. The gargoyle closest to the street apparently bears more than a passing resemblance to the unfortunate rector.


So here we were, standing looking up at the gargoyles, staring down at us, looking butt ugly. If the rector looked like one of them, he must've been a total minger. We excitedly ran across the street for a better view. 



Still enthusiastic about the gargoyles, we tore ourselves away, not much of our lunch break left! We set off from Cornhill and trundled merrily along Gracechurch Street, past the impressive Leadenhall Market, on to Fenchurch Street and finally found ourselves at our final destination of the day, Philpot Lane.  We knew what we were looking for, but would we find it?!  Amongst the construction works going on, huge cranes and most of the road partitioned off, we started to wonder if we would be disappointed.  But at the very end of the street we found what we had been looking for. At first I couldn't see it, but my excitable E.A.A.C. squealed in delight as she spotted it first.  Number 13 Philpot Lane is a much modernised 17th century building, yet if you take an extremely close look you will discover that on the front there is a carving of two brown mice eating a piece of cheese. They are difficult to spot, and were put there by the original builders, who were plagued by mice throughout the construction work.  As the story goes, an argument broke out when a workman accused another of eating some of his lunch. During the row one of the men fell to his death. It was later found that mice were the culprits and these two mice eating cheese were added to the front of the building.
The building itself is fascinating, check out the random faces on the wall and the heads of pigs & dogs at the top!

After making several friends who approached us while we were taking photos, asking us what the blazes we were doing, we took a quick stroll along Eastcheap, only to be greeted by yet more fascinating gothic buildings, which we wanted to stare at for the rest of the day like a couple of lunatics.  But unfortunately, we had to head back to the office, so the fun came to an end.

Join us next week for more quirk-tastic adventures!

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