London – Stone Effigies

Not the least of the quaint things that the seeing eye may note in London streets are the small statues and reliefs that give an odd variety to some of the houses.

At No. 78, New-ate Street, five minutes’ walk from St. Sepulchre’s, and on the same side of the road, is a bas-relief (probably an old shopsign) of a giant and a dwarf. These were William Evans and Sir Jeffery Hudson, freaks whom it pleased Charles II. to keep about him at the Court, as readers of Peveril of the Peak will remember.

Just opposite is Panier Alley, so called from the basket-makers who once lived here. On the left, cased in glass in order to preserve it from the weather, is a somewhat battered effigy of a fat boy sitting upon a panier, and, underneath, this inscription:

When ye have sought the citty round, Yet still this is the highest ground. August the 27th, 1688.

It was put up a few years after the Great Fire, that landmark in the history of the City. I am told its claim is not strictly founded on fact, and that part of Cannon Street is a few feet higher, but one would like to believe the cherub.

Another bas-relief of a fat boy, at the corner of Cock Lane, even nearer to St. Sepulchre’s, I mention in another chapter, and there is a quaint old vintner’s sign of an infant Bacchus on a barrel, to be found at the junction of Liverpool Street and Manchester Street, in the rather depressing vicinity of King’s Cross. It is believed to be the only one of its kind left in London.