Sunday, 24 March 2013


Walking south down Walbrook with the site of Bucklersbury House on the right. That side of the building worked alright;  it was the side towards Queen Victoria Street that ignored the line of the pavement and created awkward spaces that was the problem,  if I remember rightly.

I suppose the road follows the course of the old Walbrook river fairly closely, and no doubt it's in a pipe somewhere down below. There are people who get very excited about these things.

When they  built  Bucklersbury House in the 1950s they found a Temple of Mithras - used as I understand it a by kind of Roman Freemasonry with added animal sacrifices - along here; the remains were taken up and relaid (they were rather flat remains) in one  of  the abovementioned awkward spaces towards Queen Victoria Street.

The church of St Stephen (just visible in the second picture this side of the St*rb*cks sign) was originally on the west side of the Walbrook. It was rebuilt on the east side in the later middle ages, burnt down in the Great Fire in 1666 and rebuilt by Christopher Wren (unusually, for a City church, no one disputes the attribution). It's ingeniously domed and columned and generally revered by the kind of people who revere things. So worth a look inside, even if the modern rearrangement with the centrally placed altar is problematic, and the primitivist  form  the altar takes even more so.

The last picture is along the side of Cannon Street Station. Not sure if the road is still officially Walbrook, but no doubt the river W. is still burbling on psychogeographically  underneath.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Medallion Man

I don't think there can be any doubt this is by Lucius Gahagan, or perhaps at least by a Lucius Gahagan. It's a small circular bronze relief, 17cm across, of the Revd. Francis Skurray (1774--1848). According to Bonhams, who sold it, along with a version in patinated plaster, for £29 in 2004, it's signed on the edge "L. Gahagan, published July 14 1841".

It could hardly be by Lawrence Gahagan, if, as seems generally agreed, he started his career in Dublin 85 years before that. Anyway, Skurray was local to Bath, where Lucius, indeed both Luciuses were based; he was educated there, and his maternal grandfather had been mayor of the city. At the time of his death he was perpetual curate of Horningsham in Wiltshire, and Rector of Winterbourne-cum-Steepleton in Dorset, and of Lullington, Somerset. He was a poet, author of a volume called "Bidcombe Hill, and other Rural Poems", which was sucessful enough to go into three editions, and was something of an art collector, as this view of the interior of the parsonage at Horningsham, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum demonstrates:

A label on the back of the painting says that it shows the "Gothic Room" built for Skurray in 1839, and that the collection illustrated included works by Guercino, Guido Reni ("The Infant Saviour") Titian ("Abelard"), Francesco Solimena (Faith Hope and Charity), Sassoferrato and Ruisdael. Clearly in those days, clergymen were wealthy enough to be able to afford a decent collection, though no doubt some of the attributions were overambitious: I can't, for instance find a single reference to an "Abelard" by Titian.