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The Weathervanes Of Old London

August 10, 2016
by the gentle author

I can think of no more magical sight to glimpse in a London street than that of a gilded weathervane glinting in sunlight high above the rooftops. At once – in spite of all the changes that time has wrought – you know you are sharing in a visual delight enjoyed by three centuries of Londoners before you, and it makes your heart leap.

Consequently, I am grateful to Angelo Hornak who photographed this gallery of golden weathervanes for his magnificent book AFTER THE FIRE, London Churches in the Age of Wren, Hawksmoor & Gibbs published by Pimpernel Press, which I heartily recommend to you.

Spire of St Mary-Le-Bow, Cheapside, by Christopher Wren

Dragon upon St Mary-Le-Bow, representing the City of London

Arrow & pennant on St Augustine, Watling St

Spire of St Bride’s Fleet St by Christopher Wren

Gridiron on St Lawrence Jewry, symbol of the martyrdom of St Lawrence

Weathervane on St Magnus the Martyr by Christopher Wren

Weathervane on St Michael Paternoster Royal, College St

Galleon on St Nicholas Cole Abbey, moved from St Michael Queenhithe after demolition

Weathervane on St James Garlickhythe

Crown on St Edmund King & Martyr, Lombard St

Key on the Tower of St Peter Cornhill

Cockerell on St Dunstan-in-the-East by Christopher Wren

Comet on St Mary-Le-Strand

Spire of St Martin in the Fields by James Gibbs

Square-rigged ship on St Olave Old Jewry

Flaming red-eyed dragon on St Luke, Old St, described as a flea in popular lore

Weathervane on St Stephen Walbrook by Nicholas Hawksmoor

‘Flame’ on the top of the Monument by Christopher Wren

Photographs copyright © Angelo Hornak

You may also like to take a look at

The City Churches of Old London

The Signs of Old London

9 Responses leave one →
  1. Lisa R. Hirsch permalink
    August 10, 2016

    The library next door to the Whitechapel Gallery has a fine weathervane.

  2. August 10, 2016

    Wonderful collection. How fitting that the dragon is representing the City of London, which is so greedily ‘burning’ Spitalfields and the East End to engorge itself more. Valerie

  3. August 10, 2016

    Spitalfields Life should have its own symbolic spire with a golden cat, claws outstretched against the property developers who encircle it.

  4. Milo Bell permalink
    August 10, 2016

    Excellent set of photos and far preferable poring over them than risking life and limb dodging the traffic whilst craning ones neck into impossible positions.
    Also put me in mind of that famous Carly Simon track “You’re so vane.”

  5. Helen Breen permalink
    August 10, 2016

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, thank you for yet another tidbit about London history …

  6. Nina Archer permalink
    August 10, 2016

    …… just – lovely, thankyou GA …..

  7. Greg Tingey permalink
    August 12, 2016

    Did you know that there’s another superb Dragon on top of the church by Spa Road, Bermondsey?

  8. Diana Buck permalink
    August 14, 2016

    I had heard of summers spent hop picking by East Enders.
    Until the Darling Buds of May, I hadn’t given it much thought.
    I thank you for the photo’s. It’s always wonderful to see period pictures
    working class people going about their daily life.
    I wonder if family members recognize their own ?
    PS I grew up on a farm. The work was hard. Hot and dirty in the summer.
    Cold and dirty in the winter….but the smell’s of fresh fruit and vegetables,
    still lingers in my mind.

  9. Maribel permalink
    February 5, 2018

    Thanks a lot for this article, I live in Santiago de Compostela (Spain) but I love London and the weaher-vanes , I don´t know why, maybe since I was four years old and I walked with my father on the streets of London. My parents were inmigrants in the 60’s

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