Thursday, 16 April 2009

Wandsworth Town Hall, SW18

At last, we conclude our tour in stone through the London Borough of Wandsworth at Tooting and Balham.
Sculptor John Linehan seems to have run out of ideas at this point, or perhaps this area is a bit short on historical incident.
Tooting gets its name from the Anglo-Saxon clan (or inga) of a chief called Tota, and there his is on the right, riding a horse and accepting homage from a family of villeins. He is wearing cross-garters and a Phrygian cap, oddly.
Behind him is Tooting's only famous visitor, Saint Anselm, who was Abbot of Bec in France, which had been given the area by William the Bastard. Anselm is a rather attractive character, trying to bring a bit of rational thought to Christian belief and also standing up to William Rufus who was even more of a bastard than his dad. Anselm became Archbishop of Canterbury, and is seen accepting tithes of wheat and what looks like a monster cabbage from the locals, who are still villeins.
On the left, a rider gallops o'er Tooting Common.
The frieze runs across the whole facade of Wandsworth Town Hall. The intention was to create a rich tapestry of life in the borough through the ages, but the odd Victorian history-book style of some of the costumes just makes it look like the queue for His Worship the Mayor's Christmas Fancy Dress Ball.


Capability Bowes said...

Interesting that there are two enormous bunches of flowers (sadly unidentifiable) in the carving - was there a famous market or market garden nearby somewhere?

ChrisP said...

Most of the area west of London was smallholdings supplying the vast quantities of milk, eggs, fruit and veg demanded by the capital. I don't think there was a particularly famous one, however. Cobbett has a good sneer about the market gardeners of the area.