Tag Archives: London statutes

© Gibson Square 2010

Queen Anne This year marks the tri-centenary of the © symbol – -legislation enacted during the reign of Queen Anne, the Queen that chair legs have been name after, itself rather curious for as when Queen Anne was crowned the tradition at that time of buckling on a new pair of spurs had to be abandoned for the future Queen’s legs were deemed too fat.

The copyright sign asserts the author’s intellectual rights over his work. Unfortunately the statute of Queen Anne outside the West Front of St Paul’s Cathedral was itself copied. Originally completed in 1712 depicting the Queen with an alluring figure, when in fact at the time of its creation, she was obese. The statue itself was reproduced because by the end of the 19th Century pigeon droppings, coal smog and vandalism had all but finished it off.

[T]he City approached the celebrated sculptor Richard Claude Belt and he duly promised to complete the work within a year. Belt although undoubtedly talented was a bit of a reprobate, he was constantly running up debts and getting into scrapes, and about the time of the Queen Anne commission found him in prison for fraud.

He had spent the money advanced for the commission already, but the City authorities had no intention of throwing that money away, and gained special permission to deliver stone and tools to Belt’s cell, with the result that we can confidently say that the St Paul’s statute of Queen Anne, albeit a rather slim line version, is the only public work of art completed by a convicted prisoner while he was actually in prison.

The British Statute of Anne 1710 is now seen as the origin of copyright law, although many of the legal principles governing intellectual property have evolved over centuries, and it was not until the 19th century that the term intellectual property began to be used, and now with digital technology fierce debate rages upon where intellectual property rights have been infringed when material is copied and shared with others or uploaded on the world wide web for others to read.

You may have noticed that CabbieBlog is only protected by a Creative Commons License allowing anybody to share the site’s content (with a few exceptions) with others as long as an attribution is made to the author. Many in the creative industry, it seems, get too exercised over the copyright of their work. No one could defend downloading industrial amounts of copyrighted data, but equally sharing this material actually promotes many artists’ work. In fact some authors have not only shared their work but produced free podcasts of entire books for the world to consume and share. One of the first authors to share their intellectual property was Scott Sigler who decided to start podcasting his novel Earthcore in March, 2005 as the world’s first podcast-only novel to build an audience for his work. Sigler considered it a “no brainer” to offer the book as a free audio download and attracted over 10,000 subscribers. His approach has paid off and is now regarded as one of the leading sci-fi authors of his generation.

So when you produce a piece of work, don’t go down the Queen Anne route, your image will only be reproduced in due course, but share your work, you could find that your generosity will reap dividends.

Image of Queen Anne’s statute used here can be found on wallyg at flickr, with further background information on the statue and British Statute of Anne 1710.

Mythical Creatures

[T]his Sunday is the start of the Chinese New Year when we enter the year of the Tiger; it is the sign of courage, a fearless and fiery fighter revered by the ancient Chinese as the sign that wards off the three main disasters of a household: fire, thieves and ghosts.

The Chinese have a culture seeped in animal mythology from nine headed birds to numerous dragons, so for today, to wish you Happy New Year and CabbieBlog gives you London’s mythical creatures, starting with a dragon for fire:

dragon The City of London – Dragon or Griffin?
There is some confusion in identifying dragons and griffins in The City of London. Certainly both are mythical winged creatures. A griffin is the offspring of a lion and an eagle, it has the head, shoulders and legs of an eagle, while the body is that of a lion, so think beak and talons on a large cat – with wings. Traditionally, griffins have kept watch over hidden treasure, not much of that left in The City. While a dragon is a ‘winged crocodile’ or scaled creature with a serpent tail, capable of breathing smoke or fire, so for this one think teeth, flared nostrils, scales and a snaky tail – with wings. Symbols of these creatures can be found at: The boundary to the Square Mile either standing or on plinths; at Temple Bar on the top of the Bar; Holborn Viaduct has them incorporated in the bridge spans; while Smithfield Market’s Grand Avenue they are breathing fire; at the entrance to Guildhall, Bank Underground Station and Leadenhall Market; at the Monument and on the weathervane atop St Mary-le-Bow Church – scary.

Cadiz Memorial cadiz Cadiz Memorial
This French mortar mounted on a cast-iron dragon can be found on Horseguard’s Parade. It was a gift of the Spanish government to the Prince Regent in memory of the lifting of the siege of Cadiz following the defeat of the French forces near Salamanca in July 1812 by the Duke of Wellington’s army.

Chindit Memorial Chindit Memorial
At Embankment Garden there is another strange looking beast. The Chindit Memorial statute depicts the Burmese mythical beast Chindit who is the guardian of Burmese pagodas and temples. The statue commemorates the Burmese campaign during World War II in 1943 and 1944 with the Chindit Special Force, their motto features on the plinth ‘The Boldest Measures Are the Safest’, a lesson they should have put into practice in Afghanistan.

CleopatraSphinx Cleopatra’s Needle Sphinx
Having nothing to do with her at all, but still called Cleopatra’s Needle, carved in 1475 BC over 1,000 years before London was named, is by far the capital’s oldest man-made attraction. Standing over 60 feet high and weighting 186 tons. Presented to the British in the early 1800s against its wishes. It was loaded onto an iron pontoon and showed its obvious displeasure at being moved from the shores of the Mediterranean by nearly sinking off The Bay of Biscay. The obelisk was saved but six seamen died in the ferocious storm. We eventually erected it in 1887. It is now the most popular suicide spot on this stretch of the Thomas, come here at night to witness two ghosts who are seen jumping into the river. You cannot help but feel that the needle is waiting for the day when it can return home to stand proud under the hot Egyptian sun.

Crystal Palace Sphinx Crystal Palace Sphinx
The Great Exhibition of 1851 was the expression of a society at the zenith of its prosperity and power. Paxton’s Crystal Palace was a huge iron goliath with over a million feet of glass, containing such industrial exhibits as the jacquar loom, courts depicting the history of art and architecture from ancient Egypt through the Renaissance as well as exhibits from imperial territories like India and Australia. Major concerts were held in the Palace’s huge arched Centre Transept, which also contained the world’s largest organ. The central transept also housed a circus and was the scene of daring feats by world famous acts such as the tightrope walker Blondin. The Crystal Palace itself was almost outshone by the park in which it stood, which contained a magnificent series of fountains (the water pumped through a set of towers designed by Brunel) and the park’s original trees. Today, it is a rather different matter, moved to Crystal Palace after the exhibition it burned down in the thirties; all that remains are a set of empty terraces, with headless statues gracing the steps and Sphinxes guarding the entrance way to nothingness.

London’s Zoo

[A]sk any American tourist to name an animal statute in London and they would, in all probability, say the Trafalgar Square Lions, so for all our Colonial Cousins what better place to start than with these noble beasts at our Capital’s centre.

450px-Trafalgar_square_lion Landseer’s Lions
Queen Victoria’s favourite animal painter took some persuading to undertake the commission to sculpt London most famous lions. He insisted on having a still ‘model’ for his working drawings and eventually one of London Zoo’s male lions died and the body was duly delivered to the artist’s home. Landseer started sketching and all was going swimmingly that is until the neighbours complained of a rather strong smell, and Landseer’s model had to be removed. As a footnote, when you touch those mighty paws, they were modelled from a little domestic cat.

200px-Redlion Coade’s Lion
This rather aristocratic creature has travelled more widely than his Trafalgar Square brothers, starting life outside the Lion Brewery. When the brewery was demolished in 1951 to make way for the Festival of Britain Exhibition, he was put outside Waterloo Station at the request of King George VI. Coade’s Lion got itchy feet and once more was moved to his present site at the southern end of Waterloo Bridge. The technical skills for Coade Stone, a kind of terracotta, have been lost with the death of the last member of the Coade family, almost indestructible by the weather and always remaining white, a fortune could be made if you practised those skills hard enough.

Gresham grasshopper Gresham’s Grasshopper
Thomas Gresham laid the foundations of many of the City’s financial institutions and after his appointment as Ambassador to the Netherlands helped him understand European evaluation of commercial enterprise. On his return from his travels Gresham immediately set to work and built the first Royal Exchange at Bank Junction, it was his ambition was to build London’s first business trading centre taking the business away from the local coffee shops and concentrating all dealing within one building. At a huge cost to himself Gresham realised his dream and in the winter of 1570 Queen Elizabeth declared this unique trading centre open for business. He was an entrepreneur who was way ahead of his time and foresaw he needed his own emblem as a status symbol, so he would tell this tale his friends and business associates: Gresham pronounced that he was abandoned as a baby, wrapped in old cloth and hidden out of sight in huge field amongst long grass, the only reason he survived was because a young servant girl was attracted to the sound of the hissing of grasshoppers. The servant girl discovered young Gresham fast asleep and shivering from the cold and was taken from the field to a wealthy household and brought up as an orphan. Educated by his new family he then went out and attained great success. This was Thomas Gresham’s imagination going a little too far; however, it is a colourful story.

299680665_fed5536d21 Willie’s Mole
It was said that when St. James’s Square was built every resident had a title or was sleeping with someone with a title. Soon however it had become a tip of kitchen rubbish, dead cats, and all manner of rubbish, so an idea to erect a statute of King William III at its centre seemed a good idea, except the very wealthy residents refused to part with their money. Eventually it was built but the statute has something very odd about it, William is mounted upon his horse but at its feet there is a small molehill. William was the Protestant King brought to England from Holland to replace the last Catholic, King James, an act which was too many very unpopular. He died after falling from his horse which itself had tripped over a molehill. Jacobites then and now still toast the little gentleman in velvet.

petcem2 The Duke’s Dog
Every dog has its day and after the Duke of Cambridge’s dog was run over in 1881 he inaugurated this graveyard at Victoria Gate, Hyde Park so that ‘Ranger’ could be buried here. Incredibly by 1903 the graveyard was full and only dogs with family vaults can still be laid to rest here. The inscriptions are alternately heartrendering and baffling: ‘Could love have saved’, ‘Fritz, a martyr’, ‘A King of Pussies’.

General Smith’s Camels
The Imperial Camel Corps were established in 1916 from troops which had served in Gallipoli and were commanded by Brigadier General Smith, VC, composed mainly of Australian, New Zealand, Indian, Singaporean and British soldiers; the Corps had a mounted infantry role with the camels providing mobility, although it was intended that the troops should go into action dismounted (camel and rider were regarded as a self-contained unit for up to five days). The Imperial Camel Corps Memorial (a camelier mounted on a camel) was unveiled in 1921 at Victoria Embankment Gardens and commemorates the 346 members of the Corps who died.