No. 839: Victoria Embankment, EC4
Victoria Embankment, London, EC4. Photo © Roger Dean 2012
Although dragons have been a constituent part of the armorial bearings of the City of London for a very long time it may surprise you, as it did me, that the guarding of the entrances to the City by dragons is a much more recent tradition. The first dragon, (it is a dragon and not a griffin as is commonly thought), to stand guard was the one on top of the Temple Bar Memorial erected in 1880 outside the Royal Courts of Justice, where Strand meets Fleet Street. The next dragons placed on duty are the pair on Victoria Embankment, one of which can be seen in the photograph above. They were mounted on the plinths that already marked the boundary in 1963 although the dragons themselves predate this (c. 1848) as they were formally mounted over the entrance of the majestic London Coal Exchange on Lower Thames Street in the City and were salvaged when it was demolished in 1962. The dragons proved very popular and it was decided to extend the idea to other entrances to the City using half size replicas of the pair that originally graced the Coal Exchange. R.D.