Guardian dragons

CAST-IRON STATUES of dragons mark the City of London’s boundaries on main roads leading into it., The City includes the oldest part of the metropolis.

Standing on their hind legs, the dragons stick out their red-painted tongues and rest their left forepaws on a shield with the coat-of-arms of the City of London. The creatures were designed by James Bunstone Bunning (1802-1863), who was architect to the City of London from 1843 until his death.

Thirteen of these dragons can be found in London. Some of them were placed at entrances to the City as late as the 1960s. The dragons are part of the City’s coat-of-arms, which was in use by 1381. In this emblem, a pair of them supports a crest.

I consider that these creatures look far from welcoming.

Leave the high street to discover hidden history

Ball Court_240

 

The City of London, the traditional business district of London that stands on the site of the old walled London of Roman and mediaeval times, is full of delightful surprises. Although much of the area was destroyed by the Great Fire in 1666 and the aerial bombing in the 1940s, what has persisted to a remarkable through the ages is the mediaeval street layout.

Another charming feature are the narrow alleyways that pass between or even through buildings. Step through some of these, and suddenly you find yourself stepping back into history.

Recently, we ‘discovered’ Ball Court, which leads south from Cornhill just a few yards west of the Church of St Michaels Cornhill. A narrow alley leads beneath a building to a wider courtyard open to the sky. Two sides of this rectangular  space are occupied by Simpsons Tavern, a pub (and chop house) established in 1757. Ball Court itself is even older than the tavern, appearing on a map dated 1746. 

I can not tell you why Ball Court has that name, but I feel sure that there must have been a good reason, but it had no name on the 1746 map. In any case, when in London, leave the main streets, explore, and enjoy!