Thursday 25 June 2009

54-55 Cornhill, EC3

Far above Cornhill, the highest point in the City, these devilish creatures stare down on the bankers, stockbrokers and insurance men as if waiting to drop down and tear them limb from limb. They were designed by W.J. Neatby, the incredibly versatile Victorian architect who did virtually everything from miniature paintings, stained glass, furniture and ceramics. From 1889 to 1900 he was head of architectural sculpture at Doultons in Lambeth, and it was while at the firm he created these phantasms.
The building was designed by Ernest Runze in 1893, cladding it entirely in Doulton's terracotta.
It is interesting to compare the figures. The one on the gable at the top is almost human, squatting on the gable and looking intently down. It has claws, horns and a beard - but also breasts.
The other one has short, hyena-like legs and a tail whipping round its foreleg. It also has breasts, but not the battery of teats you would expect of a dog but just two, as a woman would.
Neatby was also responsible for the very alarming foxes on the Fox and Anchor in Smithfield, where he went totally Art Nouveau.
I find it slightly disturbing that his most prominent work is the Meat Hall at Harrods, but perhaps I am reading far too much into all this.


Jane said...

All very interesting (as ever). I recently posted a pic on GWL of one of the Cornhill devils and it became really popular... if you scroll down through all the comments there are some great snippets of info in there.
(If the link above does not work put "another horny devil" into Google.)
I am a bit lax in my research and had no idea that the same fella was involved in the fabulous Fox and Anchor which is a pub I mentioned on my blog a few weeks ago re the odd name pairing. Any ideas what that's about?

Anonymous said...

Ok. We know now who was the architect. But who was the owner?