Griffin by Charles Bell Birch on Sir Horace Jones's Temple Bar Memorial. 1880. Bronze. London EC4. [Click on these images for larger pictures.]

Tenniel's Gryphon

Birch's strikingly rampant "griffin" (as it is traditionally known) crowning the Temple Bar Memorial is really a dragon, the symbol of the City of London. The mythical griffin, as anyone familiar with Tenniel's illustration of the "Gryphon" in Alice in Wonderland knows, is half-eagle, half-lion, and so has feathery rather than webbed and scaly wings, and a heavy rather than a reptilian body. Dragons feature on the City arms in association with the Cross of St George, and are featured on boundary markers in the City, presumably in their positive role as guardians of the City's treasure. See Philip Ward-Jackson on the Dragon Boundary Markers and their history (422-23).

[Click on the thumbnail at right, a detail from Tenniel's illustration, to see the entire plate.]

The Temple Bar Memorial, its sculpture, and related material

Photograph at left and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. Photograph at right by Robert Freidus. Formatting and perspective correction by George P. Landow. You may use these images 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.


Ward-Jackson, Philip. Public Sculptures of the City of London. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2003.

Last modified 3 August 2011