Sunday 20 December 2015

Lamb Memorial, Giltspur Street EC1

Charles Lamb, the man who was Elia, went to school at Christ's Hospital when it was still housed in the old Greyfriars monastery in Newgate Street. He is portrayed in this memorial by Sir William Reynolds-Stephens in school uniform. Sir William also designed the aedicule in his typical magpie 'bit of this, bit of that' style.
The monument was made to celebrate the centenary of the essayist's death in 1834. It was originally mounted on the wall of Wren's Christchurch, next to the old school, but was transferred here in 1962 when the church was restored as a ruin after its near destruction in the blitz.
When the memorial was proposed, The Times said that a bust was the most appropriate form as it would avoid the need to show Lamb's "slight, spare figure, his spindle legs," in the words of a contemporary essay in the Gentleman's Magazine. His head, in contrast, was 'worthy of Aristotle' according to his friend Leigh Hunt.

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