A London Bestiary
Contributing Artist Adam Dant has created this splendid portfolio of chiaroscuro wood cuts of Ten Creatures of London Legend
The Vegetable Lamb Of Tartary, Lambeth Palace
This was believed to be a sheep grown on a plant from a melon-like seed. Introduced to England by Sir John Mandeville in the fourteenth century, an example of this legendary zoophyte can be found at Lambeth Palace.
The City Of London Dragon, Chancery Lane
The dragon guards the boundary of the City of London and its design is based upon a seven-foot-high original created by J B Bunning in 1849, upon the roof of the former Coal Exchange in Lower Thames St.
The Werewolf Of London, Guys Hospital
In 1963, Dr John Illis of Guys Hospital wrote a paper On Porphyria & Aetiology Of Werewolves, arguing that red teeth, photosensitivity and psychosis experienced by those suffering of Porphyria may have been the characteristics that led to them being mistaken for werewolves.
The Enlightenment Merman, British Museum
Part-monkey and part-fish, the Merman was ‘caught’ in Japan in the eighteenth century and given to Queen Victoria’s virtuous grandson Prince Arthur who donated the desiccated creature to the British Museum, where it may be found today in the Enlightenment Gallery.
The Olympic Park Monster Catfish, Stratford
In December 2011, a Canada Goose was dragged beneath the waters of the River Lea by an unseen predator believed to be a Monster Catfish known to locals as ‘Darren.’
The Sheep Having A Monstrous Horn, Royal Society
This animal from Devonshire gained fame in the capital having been presented to the Royal Society on account of a giant twenty-six inch horn which grew from its neck.
Old Martin, Martin Tower At The Tower Of London
Old Martin, the phantom bear of the Tower of London’s Martin Tower is reported to have scared one unfortunate beefeater to death. A bear by the name of Old Martin was given to George III by the Hudson Bay Company in 1811 when the Tower had its own menagerie.
Spring-Heeled Jack, Bearbinder Rd In Mile End
Numerous sightings of a violent demonic creature with supernatural abilities at jumping terrorised people in the East End in 1838.
The Phantom Chicken, Pond Sq Highgate
The half-plucked Chicken, which was seen most recently in 1970 by a caressing couple, is said to be the same chicken which Sir Francis Bacon had attempted to pack with ice in 1626 during an early experiment in freezing food that resulted in the philosopher’s death from Pneumonia.
Twelve Foot Fossilised Irish Giant, Broad St Station
Weighing two tons and fifteen hundredweight and standing twelve feet two inches tall, the fossilised ‘Irish Giant’ disappeared from Broad St Station in 1876 after being dug up by a Mr Dyer in County Antrim and toured around Liverpool and Manchester.
Images copyright © Adam Dant
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