Memorials and public art - City of London
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Time Here Picture

Sculpture in the City is a free open air exhibition found throughout the Square Mile. Visit to see works by internationally renowned artists like Ekkehard Altenburger, Bruce Beasley, Adam Chodzko and many more.

Around almost every corner in the City you’ll find an unusual piece of public art or a commemoration of the City’s great history.

From a plaque marking where William Wallace was gruesomely killed at Smithfield to a modern ‘Resolution’ man by Antony Gormley, wandering the streets becomes far more interesting when you take a closer look.

We choose a few highlights here but visit our image gallery to see more of the statues, memorials and pieces of public art around the City.

City dragons
Major City entrances and exits are guarded by the City’s dragons, symbols of protection in heraldic terms. It is dragons that support the City’s shield in its ancient coat of arms and they hold the cross of St George and a small red sword. This is believed to be the sword of St Paul, the City’s patron saint. If you’re looking at their tongues, you’re on your way in to the City – if you’re facing their tails, you’re leaving!

Blue plaques
There are currently over 90 blue plaques in the City. Produced by the City of London Corporation, these plaques look a little different to those you’ll find elsewhere in the UK (they’re rectangular not circular). Some recall famous people and long-forgotten individuals that had links with the City, others buildings, institutions and churches that have long since disappeared. Subjects commemorated include Samuel Pepys, Elizabeth Fry and Richard (Dick) Whittington.

The Cordwainer 
Alma Boyes’ Cordwainer on Watling Street commemorates 100 years of the ward of Cordwainer Club (a cordwainer was a shoe maker and/or soft leather worker).

LIFFE trader
The London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange (LIFFE) was one of the last ‘open-outcry’ trading companies in the City and Stephen Melton’s trader statue (formerly in Walbrook but currently at Guildhall) has become a symbol of City trading.

Hodge the Cat
Among a maze of courtyards and passageways reminiscent of old-London is a statue of Dr Johnson’s cat Hodge (Johnson composed the first English dictionary). Pay a visit to Dr Johnson’s House whilst you’re here.

William Shakespeare
In St Mary Aldermanbury Gardens you'll find a bust of William Shakespeare, or rather to John Hemynge and Henry Condell, the two men who chose to first publish his work several years after his death (the inscription explains that Shakespeare had never intended to publish his work at all). It is to Heminge and Condell that we owe the printing of the First Folio of Shakespeare's work, held in Guildhall Library.​​​

21 April 2015
Last Modified:
09 March 2018