Friday, 10 April 2009

Wandsworth Town Hall, SW18

Our journey in stone through Wandsworth takes us to Putney, on the south bank of the Thames.
From right to left, sculptor John Linehan first shows farmers, fishermen and a waterman with the 1729 wooden bridge behind. Next, Oliver Cromwell with sword and bible stands behind two grim-visaged horse soldiers of the New Model Army, reminding us of the Putney Debates that set the agenda for democratic reform in England.
The Ironsides make odd neighbours with the next man in line, Thomas Hobbes, the philosopher and advocate of strong central government, who was Charles II's maths tutor in exile.
Then comes Putney-born Edward Gibbon, author of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, one of the world's great unread books, who leans on his cane watching a girl dying a cloth.
Finally, the only activity that still survives today - rowing. A young man and woman are taking a coxed pair out. The stone arch of the present bridge looms behind.

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