The Story Of The City Of London Dragon Boundary Mark

The Dragon Boundary Marks are cast iron statues of dragons on metal or stone plinths that mark the boundaries of the City of London. The dragons are painted silver, with details of their wings and tongue picked out in red. The dragon stands on its two rear legs, with the right foreleg raised and the left foreleg holding a shield which bears the City of London’s coat of arms, painted in red and white.

The design is based on two large dragon sculptures, 7 feet high, which were mounted above the entrance to the Coal Exchange on Lower Thames Street, designed by the City Architect, J. B. Bunning, and made by London founder, Dewer, in 1849. The dragons were preserved when the Coal Exchange was demolished in 1962-3. The two original statues were re-erected on 6 feet high plinths of Portland stone at the western boundary of the City, by Temple Gardens on Victoria Embankment, in October 1963.

The Corporation of London’s Streets Committee selected the statues as the model for boundary markers for the city in 1964, in preference to the fiercer dragon by C. B. Birch at Temple Bar on Fleet Street. Half-size replicas of the original pair of dragons were made by Birmingham Guild Limited were erected at main entrances to the City of London in the late 1960s.

In addition to the Birch dragon at Temple Bar, and the two original Coal Exchange statues on Victoria Embankment, there are two replicas of the Coal Exchange dragon at the south end of London Bridge, two on High Holborn, and single replicas on Aldgate High Street, Bishopsgate, Moorgate, Aldersgate Street, Farringdon Street, and at the south end of Blackfriars Bridge.

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The City Of London Boundary Mark (Satellite View) maps.google.co.uk / Victoria Embankment Dragons

The Temple Bar Dragon: this dragon is a different breed to the other dragons, it stands guard over the boundary between the City of London and the City of Westminster. The Temple Bar dragon looks rather more fierce than the others. It is the tallest of all the dragons and has a very gothic look to it. Unlike the other boundary dragon, it is black and not silver. The Temple Bar was the most celebrated gateway to the City. It used to be at this point, where the ruling monarch would be met and welcomed into the City by the Lord Mayor.

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The Temple Bar Dragon

Dragons of classical legend are associated with guarding, such as the golden apples in the Garden of the Hesperides. In medieval romance dragons spent a lot of time guarding pretty captive women. A host of dragon-slaying Saints are associated with the beast, St George being the most pertinent to England and especially the City of London.

Saint_george_raphael

Raphael, St. George And The Dragon, 1504-1506, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C

References

Barker F., Jackson P. (1990), The History of London in Maps, London, Barrie and Jackson.

Thompson G. (1971), London Statues, London, UK, J.M Dent & Sons Ltd. Publications.

Ward .J.P. (2003), Public Sculptures of the City London, Liverpool University Press.

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