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December 31, 2012


Dan Hardie

No list of London monuments is complete without a mention of the memorial to the Machine Gun Corps, featuring a fairly disturbing statue above an appropriately horrifying Biblical quotation.

On which note: Happy New Year, Jamie and all the B&T regulars.

Chris Williams

Yeah bingo. One of the formative experiences of my youth is encountering that statue as a slightly drunk 14 year old, and concluding: "We are the barbarians." Happy new year.


There's the great Eric Gill altar carving of the Crucifixion in St George's Chapel in Westminster Cathedral, where he had two of the English martyrs on either side of Christ, one of them being St Thomas More. More always kept a pet monkey. Gill was commissioned during the war and put the monkey in with the full approval of the then Cardinal Hinsey, who had a sense of humour. Hinsley died and was succeeded by the much less broadminded Cardinal Griffin.

The carving was put up in (from memory) in 1946. It stayed up one day, was inspected by the Cardinal, and during the next night the monkey was stricken off. This caused an enormous controversy/outrage at the time. Graham Greene et al writing letters etc.

Statues of animals are very rare in English churches. There's a full one of a horse in Mells in Somerset, commemorating an Asquith or a Herbert killed in the First War, but then the graveyard is full of homosexual fox hunting socialists like Siegfried Sassoon.


Dan's second link doesn't seem to work, but IIRC the quote is from 1 Kings: "Saul has slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands". One of a few horrifying memorials : the Artillery one at Hyde Park Corner is pretty Moloch like too.

Chris williams

In the (deconsecrated) church at work, there's a plaque with a Walrus on it, commemorating a scion of the Big House who died in the Fleet Air Arm. So that sort of counts as an animal.

Barry Freed

Dan's second link works for me ajay, but you've got the quote right in any case.

Johnf's remarks here are fascinating. Apparently images of Gill's monkey only exist in his plans for the carving. You can find them by googling the phrase: "eric gill westminster cathedral monkey" with or without the quotes. First two links have an interesting story with some background history and the other follow-up has pics of the plans. (I'd include the links but it's to a blog whose recent posts include stuff like thanking god for Pope Benedict XVI and on not forgetting about the Plenary Indulgence on the first of the year - and here all I thought I had to worry about were figuring out my taxes for 2012!)

Happy New Year to the B&T community!


The thought occurs that it would have been much better to take the sledge hammer to Thomas More and leave the monkey where it was.

Barry Freed

For the New Year I resolve to use preview better and learn to correctly conjugate the verb "to be."


Huh. Yes, working for me too now.

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