Esoteric London

No. 236: Leicester Square, WC2

Posted in Monumental, Public Art by esotericlondon on January 24, 2011

Leicester Square, London, WC2. Photo © Roger Dean

Gaslight and Daylight:With Some London Scenes They Shine Upon – George Augustus Sala, 1859:

In my opinion Leicester Square, or Leicester Fields, or the’ Square,’ as its inhabitants call it, or ‘Laystarr Squarr,’ as the French have it, offers in many of its features some striking points of resemblance to an institution expatiated upon by Monsieur Philippe de Lolme, called the British Constitution. The Square, like the Constitution, has been infinitely patched, and tinkered, and altered. Some of its bulwarks have been broken down, some of its monuments have been utterly destroyed; and coaches-and-six may now be driven where edifices were. But in their entirety both institutions are unchanged. The Square and the Constitution have yet their Habeas Corpus and their Bill of Rights. Much has been abolished, changed, improved; but the Square is the Square, and the Constitution is the Constitution; and the Briton may point to both with pride, as immutable evidence of the stability of the institutions of a free country.

[The above photograph is of Henry Weekes’ bust of Sir Joshua Reynolds, the celebrated portrait painter, who lived and painted in his studio on the west side of Leicester Square from 1760 until his death in 1792. His many paintings have survived somewhat better than his own likeness, which I have heard said was badly disfigured by some over zealous cleaning contractors. R.D.]

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