Friday, 8 April 2011

Grocers' Hall Court EC2

This rather charming statue of St Anthony the Great was made for the Grocers' Hall of 1889.
It stood high up on the second floor, and was one of the few items to survive a huge fire in 1965. It now stands by the front entrance of the present hall.
In medieval times, grocers also supplied medicinal herbs and spices so they liked to associate themselves with St Anthony, the patron saint of skin diseases. The Grocers' company was originally incorporated in 1348 as the Fraternity of St Anthony. The old hermit is shown with his attributes: a pig (he is said to have been a swineherd), a cross of Tau, a bell and a book (despite that fact that his biographer, Athanasius, said he was illiterate).
Something I didn't know - grocers were originally grossers, that is, wholesalers who only sold stuff by the gross. You learn something every day.


Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

We had no idea of the origin of the word 'grocer' so, yes, there is always something to learn. Thinking about it, it does of course make sense.
Attributes of the saints are fascinating, and make looking so much more interesting.

Hels said...

I love it too - the historical origins of grocers, not the statue :) Of course grocers wanted to upmarket themselves. If they supplied medicinal herbs and spices, they could legitimately claim a connection to the patron saint of skin diseases. It was very similar to barbers being seen as surgeons.