Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Gazing at Gargoyles | Day 2/100

I cycle past this ugly brute every day on my way to and from work. When stopped at the lights, he is by far the most interesting thing to look at. I like the way he sits on top of his tower, glowering at the thousands of impatient, ashen-faced London city workers. Almost like he feeds off their bad moods. Mostly, his hellish, sinister look very much appeals to the goth in me.

Curious to know who he is and why he's there, I thought I'd make getting a snap and doing a bit of research my challenge for Day 2 of #100DaysOfInteresting.

The Cornhill Gargoyles

Turns out that the chap sitting ominously on the roof isn't alone. He's got two mates and collectively they're known as The Cornhill Gargoyles, or The Cornhill Devils, aptly called because they are found in Cornhill in London. Whether it's because I have bad eyes, or only have time enough to glance at the obvious, I can honestly say I never noticed the other two before.

How they got there and why seems somewhat murky. Starting with the actual, solid facts, I can tell you that they're made of terracotta and they are dated to the late 19th century. The story of why they are there is much harder to pin down, but if the most popular theory is to be believed then it's a story of religion, anger and revenge...

From whence the Devils came

Look closely when on Cornhill and you'll spot a spire. It's matched in size by surrounding buildings and dwarfed by London's many tower blocks, but it's there and it's the spire of St Peter's Church. Before modern London took over, St Peter's stood proud on top of Cornhill, one of only two natural crests within the city. The other is Ludgate, where you'll find St Paul's.

As the need for more offices in The City increased during the 19th Centuary, any tiny area of land was pounced upon and redeveloped. The result was that St Peter's became engulfed by commercial buildings and the church, much to the Rector's dismay, was vanishing from sight. 

He was, however, eventually rewarded with a small win over the developers. As they tried to build closer and closer to the church, the rector eventually spotted that one architect had gone a step too far as his design infringed upon church property. Kicking up a stink, the rector was found to be right and it was demanded that the architect redesign the whole building. 

Devil images, taken from lookingforghosts.wordpress.com
It's said that redrawing his plans cost the architect dearly in both time and money. Furious at this, he added to his new plans the inclusion of three devils as a mark of revenge. They were placed on top and at the edges of the building so they'd be a constant reminder to the rector of his meddling as he walked to enter the church. It's even thought that one of the devils was modelled to look like the rector. Public mockery in its most scathing form. 

So there you have it. The urban myth and as much actual fact as I could dig up on an evening. They are well worth a look though as they are (just about) the most terrifying gargoyles I've ever seen. 

Follow my challenges on Twitter using #100DaysOfInteresting and tag @RoseC_Leic. If you're keen to try it yourself, or simply want to share something interesting you've done, get in touch. 

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