Dragons are always associated with guarding something. For example, in Greek mythology, a ten-headed dragon guarded the golden apples. The Victorians were romanticists and consciously revived trends from earlier periods of history. Birch chose the dragon as the subject because it always been a culturally important symbol. Especially for the City of London and the English nation. This particular dragon also plays another important symbolic role. In keeping with the folkloric beliefs about the treasure-guarding instincts of these mythical beasts, the Temple Bar dragon serves a totemic purpose as a protective guardian of the treasures of London. There are thirteen Dragons around the City of London. Those Dragons made by Birmingham Guild Limited were erected at main entrances to the City of London in the late 1960s.
The Griffin statue presents the official entrance to the City of London on Fleet Street. And just outside the Royal Courts of Justice. If you are west of the Griffin, you are in the City of Westminster. And if you are east of it, you are in the City of London. The statue was created in 1880 by the British sculptor Charles Bell Birch. The strange thing about the Griffin is that it is not a Griffin at all – it is a dragon. It is not clear how the confusion arose.
“ … he was quite a different person and much less easy to deal with the east of the Griffin.”
Alfred Watson: Racecourse and Covert Side (1883)
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