Monday 14 July 2014

Ludgate House, Fleet Street EC4

Ludgate House, the north-west quadrant of Ludgate Circus, was built in 1872 as the headquarters of Thomas Cook the travel agents.
But this charming huddle of winged merboys on the top was not in the original design - it seems to have been added when the building was extended up Fleet Street in 1906.
The rest of the extension matches the original design (by Horace Gundry), even to the ornately carved lintels on the windows with their exotic faces intended to convey the incredibly rich variety of the human race that might be observed on a foreign tour. Actually, all the faces look very similar, a classically beautiful, very Grecian face, with an incredibly rich variety of exotic headdress.
Only the rather jolly Chinaman stands out as a real personality.
At the attic level, an entertaining group of touristic cherubs represent travel round the world. At top right, cherubic travel agents make an inventory. Navigators plot courses both celestially and terrestrially. Sailors bring in a cruise dinghy, and fat little weather cherubs ride the Sun's chariot, one brandishing a thunderbolt.
Even the doorways are guarded by chubby little chappies representing travel over the globe.

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