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The Cornhill Devils, 54-55 Cornhill, London, by Unknown sculptor. 1893. Architect: Runtz. [Click on images for larger pictures.] Photographs and caption by Robert Freidus. Formatting, perspective, and color correction by George P. Landow. You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

In his guide to little-known places in London, David Brazil instructs his reader,

Don’t look up if ever you enter St Peter’s church on Cornhill, as you may be shocked by three ferocious statues, their faces contorted in fury. One of them is also spitting, another sticks its fingers up in rage. They’re known as the Cornhill Devils, and they protrude from the Victorian office block above the Cornhill Men’s Outfitters. But why such malice? They are an architect’s revenge, an act to spite the church. During the block’s construcvtion late last century [19th century], the architect pinched a foot or so of St Peter’s land, and this did not go unnoticed by the rector. This cleric kicked up a right stink and forced the building plans right back to the drawing board. So bitter was the thwarted architect that the rector’s face was given to the gargoyle nearest the street, while the three Devils continue to display their malevolence towards anyone entering St Peter’s. [25]

Bibliography

Brazil, David. Naked City, 150 Faces of Hidden London. London: Queen Anne Press, 1987. Pevsner, Nikolaus, revised by Bridget Cherry. London Volume One. London: Penguin Books, 1989.


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Last modified 14 July 2011